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Full text of "Omni Magazine (January 1993)"

BOLD RESEARCH: CREATING CONSCIOUS G 




SAVE THE 
SPACE STATION! 
BUZZ A1DRIN 
TELLS HOW! 




NDR/inil 




JANUARY 1993 



EDITOR IN CHIEF & DESIGN DIRECTOR: BOB GUCCIONE 

PRESIDENT & C.O.O.: KATHY KEETON 

EDITOR: KEITH FERRELL 

EXECUTIVE" vP/GRAPHICS D RECTO 7 '- FRANK DEVINO 

MANAGING EDITOR: CAROLINE DARK 

SENIOR ART DIRECTOR- !":WA"-"-Ji- f-LINCHUM 



DEPARTMENTS 



First Word 

By Philip C. Cruver 

6 

Communications 

Readers' writes 

8 

Political Science 

By Tom Dworetzky 

9 

Forum 

By Keith Ferrell 

11 

Wheels 

By Paul Shepherd 

la 

Electronic Universe 

By Gregg Keizer 

14 

Books 

By Robert K. J. Killheffer 

16 

The Great Treasure Hunt 

Preview 

18 

Space 

By Brenda Forrnan 

Buzz Aldrin and Freedom 

20 

Sounds 

By Robert Angus 



Mind 

By Judith Hooper 

24 

Earth 

By Jessica Cohen 

96 

Games 

By Scot Morris 




An exotic spacecraft flies over a rugged landscape 

in Tsuneo Sanda's cover illustration. 
Is this a scene from the earth's future? The architects 

of tomorrow — those who predict and 

shape the future — might be able to teli. (Additional 

art and photo credits, page 43) 



Continuum 
35 

The Walking Way 

By Marcelo Games 

We walk; therefore, we 

are. Walking 

upright separates us from 

other animals 
and, "some scientists say, 

lies at the 

crux of human evolution. 

40 

The onnrui/Aicor 
Immortality Contest 

By Charles Piatt 

43 

Contest Entry Form 

See the future! 

Cheat death! Impress— 

or at least 

outlive— your friends! 

Enter our 

contest and take a shot at 

winning a free 

cryonics reservation. 

50 

Architects of Tomorrow 

By Frederik Pohl 

56 

Fiction: Sacred Cow 

By Bruce Sterling 

66 

The Electronic Cafe 

By Margaret Wertheim 

75 

Interview 

By Anthony Liversidge 

78 

Antimatter 



OMNI (ISSN 0149-6711) 
Sioaew-.y. New York, NY 
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right © 1992 ty Onnl a ubllci 
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s.oe araoary or Or-ri Publications 



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>ber 3. Copy-S 
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± Printed in the USA by R.R Duma Icy 4 3u-is Inc. aid aisl'iau;« 



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FIRST WORD 



DEUS EX MACHINA: 

The environmental hope 

By Philip C. Cruver 



"The myth 
that man and 
machine 
are antithetical 
entities 
must be proven 
apocryphal 
and dispelled," 
says Cruver, 
president of Unisil, 
an environ- 
mental products 
and services 
company based in 
McLean, Virginia. 



1 4% I e have mortgaged our 
I I environmental future! 
fcjr \J Tragically, we are not 
keeping current on the interest 
payments, and the principal is be- 
coming a burden beyond compre- 
hension. The story of modern civ- 
ilization has reflected human- 
kind's victory over nature with 
technology as the principal weap- 
on. Only in the last two decades, 
however, has there been an 
emerging consciousness that tech- 
nology has extracted an extraor- 
dinary price in terms 
of pollution. Ad- 
vanced technologies, 
yet to be invented, 
may now be the only 
means to pay the 
past-due trillion-dol- 
lar remediation bill af- 
ter more than a cen- 
tury of destruction. 

If we are to hope 
for a reversal of our 
planet's march to- 
ward Armageddon, 
philosophical atti- 
tudes must change. 
The myths that eco- 
nomic development 
and environmental 
protection, and that 
man and machine 
are antithetical entities must be 
proven apocryphal and dispelled. 
We must replace these miscon- 
ceptions with a new world-view— 
a view which advocates the true 
meaning, benefits, necessity, and 
perhaps superiority of advanced 
technologies. We have pro- 
gressed too far to now breech hu- 
mankind's Faustian bargain with 
technology. 

Advocacy of technology as the 
panacea for our environmental 
woes is not without its detractors. 
Not only is it criticized as not be- 
ing capable of responding to to- 
day's problems of unprecedent- 
ed growth in human population 
and economic development, anti- 



growth pundits contend that tech- 
nological progress is actually cre- 
ating new hazards such as the 
problem of rampant pollution. 
Moreover, these critics contend, 
technological optimism is the opi- 
ate of the masses: It sustains our 
addiction for more, which, of 
course, only exacerbates the un- 
derlying affliction. 

Contemporary philosopher 
Thomas Kuhn provides some in- 
sight and hope for this impend- 
ing dilemma when he argues 




that the transfer of allegiance 
from paradigm to paradigm is a 
conversion experience that can- 
not be forced, but after an extend- 
ed period of turmoil, the old par- 
adigm is abandoned and re- 
placed with a new one, This oc- 
curs only after persistent failure to 
solve the problem gives rise to a 
crisis. Adopting Kuhn's theory, 
could we not ask if our being on 
the precipice of ecological bank- 
ruptcy might ultimately create a 
new scientific-technological par- 
adigm, redefining and overcom- 
ing the misconceptions of tech- 
nology that would extricate us 
from this malaise 7 In other 
words, might we consider that by 



as soon as the end of the twenty- 
first century, the present anthro- 
pogenic world-view, which prom- 
ulgates human dominance on 
Earth, may eventually be re- 
placed by a new paradigm that 
recognizes technology's superior 
ability to rapidly evolve and adapt 
to an ever-changing and increas- 
ingly nostile environment? 

In his book Disappearing 
Through the Skylight O. B. Har- 
dison, cuitural critic and scholar, 
projects a vision of a society in 
which such a "conver- 
sion" has occurred 
through the use of sili- 
con devices. "To- 
day's silicon devices 
operate in deep 
oceans, arid deserts, 
arctic ice flows, the 
high temperatures 
and pressures of Ve- 
nus, and the airless- 
ness of the moon," 
Hardison writes, 
"Whereas the habital 
of carbon man is 
Earth, the natural 
home of silicon de- 
vices is space." He 
theorizes that all sce- 
narios which depict 
a conflict between hu- 
mans and machines will become 
meaningless — the deification of in- 
telligent machines will coincide 
with their ascension into space. 
They will become invisible and 
therefore nonconfrontational. 

Technology may be the only 
means whereby humankind can 
increase its standard of living 
while preserving its quality of 
life. And while this philosophical 
resolution of our environmental 
woes may not deal immediately 
with many of the more pressing 
problems, it certainly can supply 
us' with a source of future hope 
for amortizing the huge environ- 
mental mortgage and avoiding 
ecological bankruptcy. Dd 



connnnufuicATOfus 

READERS' WRITES: 

Support your local alien, baby boomers budget bumped, 

and confection perfection 



1 Want My SFTV 

Thank you so much for the exciting ar- 
ticle on the Science Fiction Channel [Oc- 
tober 1992], I immediately sent a letter 
off to my local cable-TV carrier urging 
them to pick up the new channel. I al- 
so wanted to send a letter to USA Net- 
work encouraging them to get their pro- 
gramming into my area. Could you pro- 
vide your readers with an address 
where they can write so science-fiction 
fans such as myself know where to 
send our letters of support and encour- 
agement? 

A.D, Ray 
Round Rock, TX 

Editor's note; You can write to USA Net- 
work in care of Sci-fi Fan Alliance, P.O. 
Box 331, New York, New York 10185. 

Texas Revisited 

" ■ . J While no doubt correct in other regards, 
Keith Ferrell's Forum article on 
Stephen Hawking's singular popularity 
["A Brief History of Time Revisited," 
September 1992] contains one glaring 
error, once repeated. The Thin Blue 
Line, Errol Morris's previous award- 
winning film, was not "a documentary 
about the Houston police department" 
as stated. In fact, it was about one Ran- 
dall Adams, who was accused of shoot- 
ing a Dallas police officer to death. 

Dennis Stacy 

Occasional Omni contributor 

San Antonio, TX 

You were mistaken that the film Thin Blue 
Line is about the Houston Police De- 
partment. Rather, it is about the murder 
of Robert Wood, a Dallas police officer. 
W. Frederick Dews II 
Arlington, VA 

Born in the USA? 

As anyone who has perused popular sci- 
ence magazines from the 1950s can at- 
test, predicting the future is a risky prop- 
osition. The least a speculator can do 
is take into account existing trends. The 
authorities quoted in Linda Marsa's 
thoughtful- "Funds" column [October 
1992] failed to do this. For instance, Kar- 



en Meredith of the American Associa- 
tion of Boomers says there will be an 
"evaporation" of age discrimination and 
that elderly baby boomers will be court- 
ed by employers because of a lack of 
enough skilled young workers. She for- 
gets to take into consideration two cru- 
cial interconnected factors: the global- 
ization of the world economy and the 
lessening of American global domi- 
nance. Throughout Asia and Latin Amer- 
ica and perhaps Russia, there will be 
ample numbers of skilled workers. 
These factors will have a greater impact 
on the future well-being of the baby- 
boom generation than any lag in the 
number of skilled workers in the United 
States. 

Timothy Lange 
Los Angeles, CA 

Sweet Memon'es Never Melt 

Your article, "Hot Chocolate" [Continu- 
um, October 1992], which described a 
new production technique to raise the 
melting point of chocolate so it 
wouldn't melt in your hands made me 
remember one of my father's favorite sto- 
ries about his days as an Army doctor 
stationed in Brazil. Since there wasn't 
a lot of action, my father was assigned 
the task of creating table butter that 
would keep its square "stick" form even 
in the oppressive heat of South Ameri- 
ca. Although I can't recall the exact in- 
gredient, my father^ managed to add 
something to the butter that raised its 
melting point to above 100 degrees. 
That evening, my father proudly 
brought the new butter to dinner, and 
his companions congratulated him as 
it spread perfectly onto the slices of 
bread. But as soon as they tasted it, 
they realized an important property of 
the new, improved butter: It simply re- 
fused to melt in their mouths. Just like 
that butter, a chocolate with a melting 
point of 158 degrees just isn't going to 
produce the same sensory appeal as 
good ol' melt-in-your-hands-style choc- 
olate. Besides-, we can always wash our 
hands. 

Powell Scott 
Brooklyn, NY DO 



political scieajce 

HI-TECH PHARMING: 

How're you gonna keep 'em down on the farm once they've had £ coli? 

By Tom Dworetzky 



Crossing the 
veggie- 
animal line: 



Farming is traditionally con- 
sidered pretty low tech, 
low profit. Export raw re- 
sources and products — so- 
called non-value-added goods— 
and you risk turning into an eco- 
nomic colony of some country 
buying your goods, making some- 
thing out of them, and selling 
them back to you for more. The 
United States did this during the 
height of our imperial days, It's 
what all empires have done. If 
you're an economic colony, you 
never get out of debt to the com- 
pany/imperial store. 
Farming of the future, however, 




bred with fish 

DNA in their 

genome will be 

In our salads 

and sauces within 

three years. 



is poised to break new ground, 
so to speak. According to a re- 
cent study from the Congression- 
al Office of Technology Assess- 
ment (OTA), expert systems now 
under development will, by the 
mid Nineties, let farmers better 
manage weather, water, disease, 
and other concerns. By 2000, 
robotics will increase planting 
and harvesting efficiency. But the 
biggest change is the revolution 
in genetic engineering. Already in 
hundreds of trials, gene manipu- 
lation in plants has created vari- 
ations able to withstand lethal 
environmental conditions and pes- 



tilence. Creating new animal "repli- 
cants" is so near on the horizon, 
you can't get a clear missile shot 
at it. Moreover, although the 
United States pioneered biotech, 
other countries are hot on our 
heels. The implication of this 
race is simply put by OTA's Mi- 
chael Phillips: "We've been lead- 
ers in basic research, but adapt- 
ing and getting it to industry and 
marketplace has proved a stum- 
bling block. And whoever gets to 
market first, wins."' 

A thriving industry means mon- 
ey revenue and jobs for us, more 
food for the world. But biotech 
has some spooky implications — 
although all biotech is not the 
same. Taking a gene from a 
plant's DNA and fooling with it a 
little— reversing it and reinserting 
it back into the chromosome, for 
example, is not really scary. That 
is what gives the new Madonna 
of modern genetic legerdemain, 
the FlavrSavr tomato, its slow- 
rioening edge. 

Much more bizarre is what will 
soon hit the market. Still a bud on 
the tomato vine, but ripening 
fast, is a new breed due to arrive 
by early 1995. As yet unnamed, 
this product of research efforts at 
DNA plant technology crosses 
the veggie-animal boundary. Em- 
bedded in its DNA is a gene 
from fish that lets said animal with- 
stand icy waters. Placed into the 
plant's genetic strands, it allows 
the tomato to survive frost. 

Such transgenic mutations 
raise certain Frankensteinian pos- 
sibilities. These are remote. In reali- 
ty, there's a trade-off of risks. Con- 
ventional farming laces the earth 
and ground water with toxic chem- 
icals. Worse, there are hundreds 
of resistant pest strains thanks to 
these pesticides. Farmers lose 
the same 30 percent of crops 
they lost before the chemicals' in- 
troduction 50 years ago. 

Still, biotech is not risk free. 



Gene engineering, like all techno- 
logical innovations, can be mis- 
used in practices from poorly mon- 
itored experimentation in less de- 
veloped countries,, to teenage 
ninja mutators — "biohackers." 
The technology is not all that com- 
plicated, nor are the basic ingre- 
dients harder to obtain than 
those in a Gilbert chemistry set. 
Any bright kid can get the stuff to 
slice and dice genetic material, 
and presto! — Blade Runner. 

While government and indus- 
try are aware of the potential down- 
side, once the biotech genie is 
out of the bottle, it's out for 
good. There are plenty of safe- 
guards to prevent hackers from 
crashing computer systems, to 
prevent fissionable material from 
falling into the "wrong" hands. 
There ace safeguards on just 
about everything that can hurt 
you. But genetically speaking, it's 
still a jungle out there; nothing 
will absolutely prevent unthought- 
fuf — if not malicious — biohacking 
in the near future. 

Then we'll face the eternal di- 
lemma dogging the footsteps of 
all science: Every solution to any 
problem creates an even bigger 
problem. The basic problem i's 
that we always find the need too 
pressing to resist the problem- 
provoking solution. Bioiech farm- 
ing is no exception. By 2000, the 
world population will lop 6 billion, 
and we'll face a crisis in food sup- 
ply far worse than today's horror 
of starving millions. Even if all 
rain forests and marginal lands 
now unfilled were put under the 
plow, today's agricultural meth- 
ods might yield too little to feed 
the species. 

So we face the Hobbesian 
choice once again: solutions 
that turn into more daunting chal- 
lenges. Future generations of re- 
searchers will face the unknown 
harvest of the biotech genie loos- 
ened on the world. OQ 



FDRunn 



THE SOCIETY FOR LITERATURE AND SCIENCE: 

A conference dedicated to connecting the two cultures 

By Keith Ferrell 



I spent a fascinating weekend re- 
cently, in the company of hun- 
dreds of scholars, both profes- 
sional and amateur, whose area 
of interest lies in the interface be- 
tween science and the humani- 
ties. The occasion was the annu- 
al conference of the Society for 
Literature and Science, a rapidly 
growing, exciting organization ded- 
icated to examining the relation- 
ship of what C. P. Snow called 
"the two cultures." 

Dozens of scholarly papers 
were presented on topics rang- 
ing from the visionary imagery of 
Ralph Waldo Emerson to the so- 
matic impact of virtual reality. Vir- 
tual reality— indeed, cyberspace 
and all of its implications— served 
as one of the major foci of the con- 
ference. It seemed sometimes 
that every other paper dealt with 
either the literature of cyberspace 
(much of which is by Omni con- 
tributors, and a good bit of 
which originally appeared in Om- 
ni) or the sociopolitical implica- 
tions of the cybernetic revolution. 
A number of presentations were 
pure academic hooey, but even 
more were the product of honest 
scholarship and hard, serious 
contemplation. 

The hooey was easy to spot; 
Too often our academic commu- 
nity, particularly academic literary 
critics, couch their insights in a 
rhetoric that's also a code, acces- 
sible only to accredited members 
of the critical club. Your member- 
ship—and thus your ability to en- 
joy (or even follow) an argument — 
depends on the school of critical 
thought to which you subscribe. 
Over the course of the confer- 
ence weekend, one could hear a 
number of academic double- 
speak harangues, as one or 
another literary or scientific dead 
horse was flayed. 

But there was even more — 
much more — genuine scholar- 
ship and enthusiasm. Better 



than perhaps any literary confer- 
ence I've attended, the SLS meet- 
ing attracted scholars with real 
passion not only for their work, 
but also for connecting their 
work with other disciplines. The 
commitment to a broad spectrum 
approach— science and literature 
are but two sides of our many- 
sided human culture— was on the 
whole well-served, and often bril- 
liantly served by the conference. 
Should you have a chance to at- 
tend a meeting of the Society for 
Literature and Science, I recom- 
mend highly that you take advan- 
tage of it. 

At the same time, there's some- 
thing ultimately enervating as 
well as energizing about a large 
conference. Presentation of pa- 
pers starts on multiple tracks ear- 
iy in the morning and continues 
until after dark. One careers 
from presentation to presentation, 
seeking to absorb as much as pos- 
sible. This can result in some 
wild juxtapositions — a session on 
the prose of Loren Eisely followed 
in short order by a look at the po- 
litical subtext of David Cronen- 
berg's film, Videodrome ... the 
neurophysiological mechanics of 
reading crammed in before a de- 
constructionist analysis of sci- 
ence fiction . . . and on and on. 

One can only absorb so much 
before seeking a break. 

Fortunately, there was serendip- 
ity at work as well as scholarship. 
A couple of blocks away from the 
convention hotel stood Atlanta's 
High Museum of Art. Centerpiece 
of the museum at the moment is 
a traveling exhibition, The Age of 
the Marvelous. The exhibition min- 
gled paintings and books, ob- 
jects and tools, instruments of sci- 
ence and instruments of war. All 
of the items in the exhibit hold 
marvelous aspects, reminding us 
of a time when science and art 
were less separated, when the 
marvels human beings are capa- 



ble of fell into a single category, 
human accomplishment, unfet- 
tered by academic taxonomies. 
The Age of the Marvelous is a 
breathtaking exhibit. 

Refreshed by the exhibition, 
one could return to the confer- 
ence for more close-up perspec- 
tives on newer marvels. By the 
end of the weekend, one could al- 
most believe that the various ac- 
ademic cultures had achieved 
some common ground. And per- 
haps they had. 

That common ground should 
be familiar turf to you, and to all 
Om™ readers. Omni came into be- 
ing a decade and a half ago pre- 
cisely in opposition to the sepa- 



science and the 
arts have 
drifted loo far 
apart on 
our campuses. 
TfieSLS 
is attempting 
to bring 
the two closer. 




ration of the two cultures of sci- 
ence and the arts. The magazine 
has held from the first issue the 
conceit that there is but a single 
culture — human culture — and 
that our job is to illuminate as 
many of its aspects as possible. 
Our attendance at and enjoy- 
ment of the SLS conference has 
opened for us a new initiative as 
well as a renewal of our original 
promise. In the months ahead, 
we'll be looking more closely at 
areas in which the two cultures 
merge and diverge. We hope 
you'll join us. DO 



IAJHEEL5 

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG: 

A tale of talkin' tires, run fiats, and super synthetics 

By Paul Shepherd 



fK f^ otorcycles rarely do. 
I Tractor-trailer trucks 
I VI I usually don't. But the 
queasy feeling is unmistakable in 
cars, where the combination of 
weight and tire size make hydro- 
planing common. In an instant, 
braking and steering become use- 
less as a vapor-thin layer of rain- 
water sends several thousand 
pounds of machinery hurling into 
flight and even seasoned drivers 
into frozen fear. Hydroplaning, 
the loss of the tire's contact with 
the road, will soon be as much a 
worry of the past as blowouts and 
locked brakes. 

In early 1992, Goodyear be- 
gan marketing the Aquatred, 
which features a deep center 
channel that together with lateral 
grooves evacuates excess road 
water. The use of channels like 
the Aquatred's means not only a 
dramatic decrease in hydroplan- 
ing, but also remarkable advan- 
tages in all wet-weather handling, 
including reducing the stopping 
distance with antilock brakes by 
several car lengths. 

Competition in the tire industry 
has always been fierce, but prom- 
ises to become spectacular over 
the next few years as manufac- 
turers race to market the most ad- 
vanced and sometimes down- 
right startling technologies imag- 
inable. Thanks to superior synthet- 
ic-rubber compounds, Michelin 
now offers an 80,000-mile tread- 
wear warranty and has also de- 
creased rolling resistance, which 
reduces fuel mileage, by as much 
as 20 percent over the next best 
product without compromising oth- 
er performance factors. 

But these advances are only 
the beginning. Asymmetrical 
tread patterns, in which tread 
cuts and even compounds differ 
completely from one side of the 
tire to the other, will soon be com- 
monplace. More tires, like the Aq- 
uatred, will be mountable only in 



one direction for better wear and 
water evacuation. We may even 
see wider production of rubber- 
ized asphalt, color-coordinated 
sidewalls, and super-low-profile 
performance tires. 

Goodyear first introduced the 
Aquatred on a concept car at the 
Epcot Center in 1981. Only re- 
cently, however, with the help of 
the Alias software that created 
the Terminator II special effects, 
have Goodyear's industrial design- 
ers and engineers been able to 
optimize Aquatred's unusual 
tread patterns for mass -market 
production. The number of varia- 
bles that engineers must account 
for when designing a tire — from 
bypass noise and rolling resist- 
ance to how it will perform on any 
given vehicle under any given con- 
ditions — has always limited the 
amount of in-depth testing possi- 
ble for experimental designs 
such as the Aquatred. Even 
when fully tested, the demands of 
manufacturing molds for dozens 
of sizes were overwhelming until 
CAD/CAM-type (Computer-Assist- 
ed Design/Computer-Assisted 
Manufacturing) systems could be 
modified for the tire industry. 

Today, tire makers including 
Michelin and Goodyear are mak- 
ing tires that can be driven up to 
200 miles with a complete loss of 
air pressure. Methods include the 
application of a puncture sealant 
to the inside of a tire, extra-rigid 
sidewalls, and an interesting ex- 
periment at Michelin with a foam 
core that's compressed during nor- 
mal inflation. In the event of pres- 
sure loss, the foam core expands 
to fill the deflated tire. 

"Run flats," one Goodyear en- 
gineer notes, handle so well with 
zero PSI (pounds per square 
inch) that a warning device must 
be installed to alert drivers to the 
condition. Consumers can expect 
to see the "run flat" or self-sup- 
porting capability a common fea- 



ture of passenger-car tires. 

Even the integrated-circuit 
chip that is already driving our 
braking and suspension systems 
has found its way into the tire. 
This past summer, Goodyear an- 
nounced a truck tire outfitted 
with a chip and transponder ca- 
pable of monitoring tire pressure, 
load conditions, and temperature 
stresses throughout the life of the 
tire, helping trucking companies 
save replacement costs of expen- 
sive tires. "Adapting this recent 
technology to standard passen- 
ger-car tires could mean dramat- 
ic improvements in antilock brak- 
ing systems, since we can moni- 
tor a skid at the tire's point of 



One of the most 
maddening 
properties ol a 

Sire is its 

tendency to flatten. 
Today, tire 
makers at Michalin 
and Beodyear 
are working to end 




contact with the road rather than 
through the wheel," says Bill 
Egan, chief engineer of product 
design at Goodyear. 

What's next? Well, despite 
their recent radicalism, the taci- 
turn response among tire scien- 
tists is that "they'll be round and 
black for a long time." 

Off the record, however, one vi- 
sionary engineer did dare to 
dream beyond where the rubber 
hits the road: "Way out there," he 
says, "I guess there would be no 
tires. You know," he says, his 
hand gliding away, "just air." But 
would they still charge extra for 
whitewalls?DO 



this night- 
mare. Consumers 
can expect 
to see the run tlat 
or self-sup- 
oarting capability 
3 common 
feature oi passen- 
ger-car tires. 



ELECTRONIC 
UNIVERSE 



SIMLIFE: 

Life goes on and on and on 

By Gregg Keizer 



All creatures great 
and small; 
out of Hie primor- 
dial soup and 
onto your 
computer screen. 



It took long enough. Last cen- 
tury, Mendel figured out genet- 
ics. Early in this one, Morgan 
discovered the chromosome. Thir- 
ty years ago, Watson, Crick, and 
Wilkins won a Nobel Prize for de- 
vising DNA's double-helix model. 
Five years ago, the U.S. Patent 
and Trademark Office issued the 
first patent for a genetically engi- 
neered animal, a mouse. But not 
until now, a few measly years 
from the millennium, can we 
work it out for ourselves. 

You may have skipped college 
biochemistry, but you won't want 
to skip one of this year's most in- 
triguing simulations, titled, appro- 
priately enough, SimLife. Call it a 
genetic lab in a floppy; call it a 
toy for the recombinant DNA en- 
gineer in all of us; call it anything 
you want. Just call it up on your 
computer. SimLife is a must- 
have on your hard disk drive. 

Maxis, the publisher of 
SimLife. knows electronic life. Its 
SimCity, SimEarth, and SimAnt tril- 
ogy let you play with cities, plan- 
ets, and backyard ant colonies; 
gave thousands hands-on expe- 
rience with urban decay, continen- 
tal drift, and scorpions; and along 
the way, breathed some original- 
ity into personal computer soft- 
ware. SimLife is its best yet. 



It's also the toughest to grab 
hold of. Blame the nearly bewil- 
dering set of controls, for this sim- 
ulation puts up more windows, 
menus, buttons, and graphs 
than most mainline business pro- 
grams. You'll get lost, literally, in 
this program at least once. But 
the payoff — a successful ecosys- 
tem with custom-designed crea- 
tures — is so big you won't mind. 

You can start from scratch by 
building a world from the ground 
up or play around with one of the 
half-dozen scenarios bundled 
with SimLife. Though it's ultimate- 
ly more fun to do it your way, it's 
best to start with one of the ex- 
isting worlds. The dinosaur sce- 
nario may not be the easiest, but 
it's an attention grabber. 

Like SimEarth, a distant cous- 
in to this simulation, SimLife lets 
you populate the world with crea- 
tures great and small, plant 
plants, and generally play God in 
only one day. And just as in 
SimEarth, SimLife includes disas- 
ters you can rain upon the 
heads of your ungrateful proge- 
ny, although the names have 
changed and include an oh-so- 
modern sexually transmitted dis- 
ease and an invasion of real-es- 
tate developers (no kidding). You 
can also modify such things as 
rainfall and temperature or play 
with some physics, like the 
length of day or caloric content 
of food. So far, standard stuff. 

But the best is buried a bit un- 
der the surface. With SimLife. you 
around with any of the 




plant or animal species, chang- 
ing any of their genetic charac- 
teristics, even their sex life. 

To fashion a new species, for 
instance, you head to the Biolo- 
gy Lab, a set of screens where 
you build a composite of its ma- 
jor characteristics, and then let 
the computer do the rest. Or you 
can delve deeper into genetics 
and actually select a species' 
genomes. When you're making 
plants, you get to pick everything 
from its gender and seeding tech- 
nique to its evaporation rate and 
moisture retention. With animals, 
it's more complicated, naturally. 
Just a few of the possibilities in- 
clude methods of movement, ges- 
tation period, life span, and food 
sources. If you've got an artistic 
bent, you can even draw the pic- 
tures that will represent the spe- 
cies on the screen. 

Of course, you can modify ex- 
isting creatures to make them bet- 
ter suited to their environment or 
compete successfully against 
predators. In fact, you'd better. 
Leave a SimLife world to its own 
devices and you'll probably end 
up with a dead planet. 

When you do leave the comput- 
er and SimLife to their own de- 
vices, they quietly conspire 
against you. That's called evolu- 
tion. Plants and animals mutate be- 
hind your back, slowly changing 
and adapting until they metamor- 
phose into a new species. If 
you're lucky, they'll live longer; 
but don't count on it. There are as 
many evolutionary dead ends 
here as in reality If that bothers 
you, you can force a deviant spe- 
cies back into genetic line. Dar- 
win would have loved that. 

SimLife isn't the first program 
to synthesize life — Life and Au- 
todesk's CA Lab came first— but 
it is the world's best scientific soft- 
ware toy. 

Go forth and multiply. And mu- 
tate while you're at it. DQ 




(Photographic reproduction of DCG hologram by Michael Medora] 

/\bove, you see both the past and the 
future. On the left - the past - King Tut's 
image presented in a DCG hologram by 
award-winning holographer Michael 
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future - is from an original painting by 
noted Star Trek® illustrator Keith 
Birdsong. The painting is now being 
transformed into a limited collection of 
1701 DCG holograms. 

LsCG holograms are created by 

passing light through a "sandwich" of 
gelatin, creating sharp, practically 
grain/ess images with virtually the same 
visual perspective as the original art. 
Their incredible light reflecting properties, 
and ability to hold color, make DCG 
holograms among the brightest, finest, 
most collectable holograms available. 



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BOOKS 



THE SHAPE OF BOOKS TO COME: 

A collaborative book (?) challenges ideas about the immortality of art 

By Robert K. J. Killheffer 




[below) blends 
the booh of 



Die booh of 

tomorrow. Above, 

artist Ashbaugh 

in his studio. 



■ ^fc ■ hen we think about art 
I I and literature, we of- 
\J \m ten think of huge gran- 
ite and marble libraries and vast 
museums like the Metropolitan or 
the Louvre. We tend to place 
high emphasis on the perma- 
nence of these twin pillars of our 
culture. Libraries spend millions 
maintaining their collections, and 
museums likewise on restoration 
and cleaning. 

But one of the functions of art 
and literature is to challenge our 
assumptions. Now cyberpunk gu- 
ru William Gibson and artist Den- 
nis Ashbaugh have collaborated 
on Agrippa: A Book of the Dead, 
an elaboratly conceived marriage 
of antique bookcraft and modern 
computer technology that may al- 
ter our conceptions of the immor- 
tality of artworks. 

Agrippawas published last Sep- 




tember by art-book publisher Kev- 
in Begos, Jr. A 95-copy edition 
costs $1 ,500. (The ten deluxe cop- 
ies go for $7,500 each, while a 
simpler 350-copy edition is 
priced at $450 each.) At its heart 
is a diskette containing the text of 
Gibson's story. Ashbaugh creat- 
ed a weighty, worn-looking book 
to house the disk, illustrated with 
his copperplate engravings. The 
oversized book's pages feature 
an alphabetic representation of a 
strand of DNA— a continuous se- 
ries of the letters A, C, G, and T, 
standing for the four basic build- 
ing blocks of DMA: adenine, cy- 
tosine, guanine, and thymine, 

Sounds interesting, you say, 
but what's so special? There's a 
catch: An encryption program-on 
the disk devours the text as you 
read it, so you can only read it 
once. And Ashbaugh's etchings 
mutate when exposed to light — 
some of the ink vanishes while oth- 
er images appear. So for all the 
care than went into its produc- 
tion, Agrippa will not "survive" a 
single reading intact. 

Reactions to this audacious 
project have ranged from excite- 
ment to outrage. Begos says at 
least one person insisted, "It's not 
a book," but most have reacted 
with "a combination of admiration 
and discomfort." Begos likes the 
idea of challenging people's per- 
ceptions: "Our assumptions 
about books and bookmaking are 
in some ways like ail our romantic 

ideas about life," and therefore 

''worth questioning. 

Ashbaugh, somewhat face- 
tiously, calls Agrippa "the 
most important book since 
the Gutenberg Bible." That, 
he admits, may be overstate- 
ment, but it has been a 
long time since any proj- 
ect challenged bookmaking 
concepts so strongly. Electronic 
books have been threatening to 
force this sort of reevaluation for 



years, and perhaps now, with 
Agrippa and the recent release of 
the Sony "Bookman," they will fi- 
nally do so. But Agrippa challeng- 
es perceptions on a number of lev- 
els. The book feels like an ancient 
volume: It's oversized, to be 
read at a lectern not on the sub- 
way; its pages are heavy rag, its 
binding handsewn, and its page 
design reminiscent of the earliest 
printed books. Yet the text is not 
words but DNA code, and Ash- 
baugh's "book" is actually a con- 
tainer for the book of the future, 
a floppy diskette. In fact, Agrip- 
pa is more art object than book — 
the arbitrary division between art 
and literature is wholly erased, 

One further twist was added to 
the Agrippa project on December 
9 when the text of Gibson's story 
was broadcast via modem to view- 
ing sites across the country and 
in Japan and Germany. Venues 
varied from the turn-of-the-centu- 
ry charm of the Americas Socie- 
ty in New York to a room in the 
University of Tallahassee's art de- 
partment. Such an event is an 
open invitation to computer hack- 
ers to tap in and acquire Gib- 
son's story free, but Agrippa s mak- 
ers don't see that as a drawback. 
As Ashbaugh puts it, "They only 
get the text." They miss all the con- 
text, which is a vital part of the im- 
pact of Agrippa. And that hi- 
jacked text will still contain the en- 
cryption program, which few com- 
puter pirates will be able to de- 
feat. Says Begos, "You'd have to 
hit it with a lot of brute mathemat- 
ical force. Anyone with access to 
a supercomputer would have a 
chance, but you couldn't do it 
with a PC." 

Where will it all lead? No one 
can say, least of all Begos, Ash- 
baugh, and Gibson. But Agrippa 
raises issues about the shape of 
books to come, issues we'll all be 
confronting, like it or not, in the 
very near future. DQ 



A CONVERSATION WITH BUZZ ALDRIN: 

The Apollo astronaut outlines his plan to save the space station 

By Brenda Forman 



4"% #% aybe we should call it 
I I the Once and Future 
I W 1 Space Station. When 
President Reagan first an- 
nounced, plans for space station 
Freedom in 1 984, it was to be fly- 
ing in 1992. Instead, political bat- 
tles over its funding, purposes, 
and design have raged almost 
continuously. Congress has man- 
dated some half-dozen redesigns 
thus far. Even so, the House of 
Representatives almost killed its 
funding in 1991, and further fund- 
ing cuts appear quite possible. 




The second 

man on Hie moon, 

Buzz Aldrln, 

wants the United 

States to 

cooperate with 

Russia on 

the space station. 



In space parlance, this is a de- 
caying orbit. 

Apollo astronaut Buzz Aldrin 
views this deteriorating situation 
with increasing alarm. Recogniz- 
ing that the station's cost is the 
central issue, he has been trying 
to enlist support for options that 
would preserve as much as pos- 
sible of what the United States 
and its international partners in 
the space station — the European 
Space Agency, Japan, and Can- 
ada — have already developed, 
while adding up to a faster, less- 
expensive, and therefore more po . 
litically viable program. 



Coming from the second Amer- 
ican to leave his footprints on the 
moon, Aldrin's views carry 
weight. "Congress is only being 
given all-or-nothing choices for 
the space station," he told Omni. 
"I'm trying for something in be- 
tween, putting the pieces togeth- 
er in more cost-effective ways." 

The end of the Cold War has 
helped by opening up some op- 
tions that were once unthinkable. 
The Russians have formidable as- 
sets that could compiemenl our 
own in important ways. 

Aldrin suggests that we start 
by teaming our launch capabili- 
ties. The Russians' huge Energia 
rocket can lug a whopping 
220,000 pounds to low Earth or- 
bit (LEO), That's more than four 
times the capacity of either the 
shuttle or the Titan 4, our largest 
rocket. But the Russians have no 
working equivalent of the shuttle. 
"Energia and the shuttle could 
take payloads up in tandem," 
Aldrin explains. "Energia would 
do the heavy lifting, and the shut- 
tle would then rendezvous with 
those payloads, bringing astro- 
nauts up to assemble them." 

Aldrin sketches out possible 
launch and assembly sequences 
for the station, "Right now, we're 
going to need about thirty shut- 
tle launches io get the baseline 
station into orbit, because you 
have to break up station compo- 
nents to fit inside the shuttle bay. 
But with the Energia, we could 
launch those pieces in bigger 
chunks and get them up a lot fast- 
er—and at the prices the Rus- 
sians are quoting these days, a lot 
cheaper, too — while the shuttle 
could do what it does best: bring 
humans up to put it all together 
and deal with ihe unexpected." 

Aldrin envisions a series of 
four Energia- fol I owed-by-shuttle 
launches to loft the station's 
main elements. "We could take 
the station truss [the crosspiece 



on which the station's pressurized 
modules, solar panels, radiators, 
and external experiments are 
hung] up first. Next would be the 
U.S. lab and habitation modules. 
After that, we'd take the JEM [Jap- 
anese Experimental Module] and 
the [European Space Agency's] 
Columbus module." 

Eventually, Aldrin would also 
like to see a new large-volume, sin- 
gle-launch version of Skyiab, 
staffed continuously, added to 
the station. 

"In theory," Aldrin continues, 
"we could do all that by ourselves 
in a low-inclination orbit" — the sta- 
tion's planned inclination of 28.5 
degrees. The optimal inclination 
for the Energia is 51.6 degrees, 
where the Russian space station 
Mr orbits. "But whatever you de- 
cide to do, you need everything 
to be in the same orbit," Aldrin 
says. "And the trouble is that the 
booster capable of putting all 
that up faster, cheaper—and may- 
be safer — doesn't belong to us. 
Furthermore, it would take at 
least five years and billions of dol- 
lars to develop it. 

"If we wen! for the higher-incli- 
nation orbit and used Russian as- 
sets together with our own, we 
could all benefit," he says. "We 
could either construct a facility to 
co-orbit with the Mir or join forc- 
es with the Russians to upgrade 
the Mir's capabilities and attach 
Freedom's habitation module to 
it and triple its capacity." 

Aldrin's proposals may meet 
with skepticism from U.S. firms 
worried about losing business to 
the Russians, However, unless 
we do something along the lines 
that Aldrin proposes, the space 
station's steady downward spiral 
will continue, and eventually, Con- 
gress will simply kill off the sta- 
tion, wasting years of effort and 
billions of dollars without ever hav- 
ing actually flown anything In 
space. DO 



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5QURJDS 

ROLL TAPE: 

Digital technology meets the audio cassette 

By Robert Angus 



It looks like a tape cassette, 
and ft sounds like a compact 
disc. It's the digital compact 
cassette (DCC), the logical suc- 
cessor to the ubiquitous audio 
compact cassette that's been 
. with us for the past 30 years, 
Digital audio tape (DAT), intro- 
duced a couple of years back, ac- 
tually brought digital technology 
to tape, but its high price, a po- 
litical squabble with the record- 



tion like Dolby noise reduction, 
those gray plastic wafers evolved 
into the primary medium for record- 
ed music in the early 1990s. At 
their best, today's audio cas- 
settes represent state-of-the-art 
analog recording. 

Nevertheless, the cassette's in- 
ventors think it's time to upgrade 
it to the Age of Digital Sound, Com- 
pared to compact discs, cas- 
settes just don't sound very 




ing industry over copying, and 
some technical bugs kept it from 
broad acceptance. DCC claims 
to be successful in addressing 
these concerns. 

DCC is more rugged and du- 
rable than the compact cassette; 
it's smaller than a compact disc, 
more portable, and less suscep- 
tible to damage; and, of course, 
you can record on it. All of these 
make it ideal for portable or au- 
tomotive use. However, like all 
tape, DCC eventually wears out. 

When the compact cassette 
first appeared in the early 1960s, 
its developers protested that it 
wasn't intended for music repro- 
duction; it was created instead as 
a dictation medium. Music lovers 
and audiophiles refused to pay 
any attention, however, and,, 
thanks to heavy doses of innova- 



good. They suffer from, among oth- 
er things, mechanical problems 
caused by inferior or well-worn 
players and manufacturing short- 
cuts that cause the tape to jam 
inside the shell and the pressure 
pads to come apart. 

When engineers set out to cre- 
ate a cassette for the 1990s, 
they kept in mind the need to pro- 
vide some compatibility with the 
otder variety while upgrading 
sound quality and improving struc- 
tural design. Thus, the^new digi- 
tal compact cassette has rough- 
ly the same outside dimensions 
as the original compact cassette, 
so DCC players can play back 
conventional cassettes as well as 
the new digital variety. The new 
decks won't record on convention- 
al cassettes, although they will 
make digital recordings on DCC 



blanks; also, older cassette equip- 
ment can't accommodate the 
new tapes. 

DCC players and recorders 
soon will be available from sev- 
eral manufacturers at prices in 
the $700-$1 ,000 range. Prerecord- 
ed digital cassettes cost about 
the same as a full-priced CD, 
while blank 90-minute digital 
tapes cost about $10 each. The 
first DCC units are full-sized com- 
ponents meant for a home stereo 
system, It's likely, however, that 
automotive playback units and 
boom-box portables will be avail- 
able within a year at prices $100 
to $200 above conventional cas- 
sette models. 

DCC decks also include a cir- 
cuit designed to prevent using the 
decks to make copies of record- 
ings for resale. While you can use 
your DCC recorder to make as 
many copies as you like — one at 
a time — of any CD or nondigital 
material, you can't make digital 
copies of your DCC tapes. 

As its name implies, DCC us- 
es digital recording techniques to 
attain sound quality approaching 
that of the compact disc. It differs 
from the CD sonically in that it us- 
es a signal-compression tech- 
nique called Precision Adaptive 
Subband Coding (PASC) to 
squeeze the necessary digital in- 
formation onto the tape. Experts 
claim that even the platinum- 
eared can't reliably tell the differ- 
ence between PASC and conven- 
tional CD versions of the same mu- 
sic, although the latter enjoys 
slightly better dynamic range, 

No matter how sweet DCC 
sounds, however, it may very 
well have trouble attracting buy- 
ers in today's tight economy. DO 

Robert Angus has been writing 
about consumer electronics for 
35 years for numerous publica- 
tions, including Penthouse and 
the Chicago Sun-Times. 



. 



RfllfUD 



THE WORLDVIEW DOCTOR: 

The world's first "private practice In personal- anthropology 

By Judith Hooper 



It took a community of Rastaf ari- 
ans to put Charles Case's world- 
view on the line. This was near- 
ly two decades ago when Case, 
a cultural anthropologist, was 
(ield-testing an interrogation meth- 
od designed to elicit the philoso- 
phy, or worldview, of Rastas liv- 
ing in Brooklyn, New York. At 
least that was the idea. What hap- 
pened was that his subject 
turned the tables on him by fend- 
ing off each of his questions with 
a question about himself, thus 




"Vou don't have to 
go to New 
Guinea," says 
cultural an- 
thropologist Case. 
"Manhattan is 
full of cultures as 
fascinating 
astbe primitives." 



pushing Case — somewhat reluc- 
tantly at first— into the deepest stra- 
ta of his own belief system. Out 
of this experience came a novel 
form of self-analysis, or "personal 
anthropology." 

"The closest thing Rastas 
have to a ritual is discussion. 
They smoke ganja and then dia- 
logue. They'll take the New York 
Times, say, and discuss it phi- 
losophically, theologically, psycho- 
logically," explains Case, who is a 
faculty member of The New 
School in New York City. "They've 
developed a sensitive means of 
probing people's belief systems, 
and they also use it to defend them- 
selves'. They did to me what I'd 
tried to do with them." 

Instead of doing his fieldwork 
among a less inquisitorial culture, 
Case continued to map in detail 



. 



the topography of his own "per- 
sonal culture." Some revelations 
were surprising, some painful. A 
religious agnostic, he was star- 
tled to unearth a deep vein of spir- 
ituality — a belief in a "conscious 
energy" in the universe. 

When Case proceeded to ap- 
ply his methodology to other 
worldviews, "the world's first pri- 
vate practice in anthropology" 
was born. Yuppies, artists, 
corporate managers, doctors, law- 
yers, the terminally ill, even con- 
victed murderers in a maximum- 
security prison have come to 
Case over the past 17 years to 
have their personal cultures clar- 
ified. "You don't have to go to Ar- 
izona or New Guinea," says cul- 
tural anthropologist Case. "Man- 
hattan is full of cultures as fasci- 
nating as the primitives." 

At the heart of his system are 
the "Whys." This barrage ot 
"why" questions— some 40 to 50 
in a row— compel the client to "bur- 
row deeper into his or her belief 
system." Being on the receiving 
end of the Whys (as I can attest 
after undergoing a short session) 
is a powerful, often dislocating ex- 
perience not unlike conversing 
with a relentless toddler. Say you 
mention in passing that you live 
on New York's Riverside Drive. 
"Why?" you're asked. You found- 
er in a sea of unexamined pos- 
tulates; you feel like Alice talking 
to the caterpillar, asking yourself 
weirdly, "Why do I live on River- 
side Drive?" The process leads in- 
exorably to its end point: an un- 
answerable question. You have un- 
covered a core belief. 

After reversing the order of six 
interview sessions, going from the 
last, unanswerable question back 
to the initial statement, Case trans- 
forms this record of your inner 
world into something that reads 
like a coherent philosophical trea- 
tise, "a description of your reality 
in your words— your own World- 



view Book." Case claims he's nev- 
er met a person who lacked a per- 
sonal philosophy. "You couldn't- 
get out of bed in the morning if 
you didn't have a set of beliefs 
about the world. But the vast ma- 
jority of people have belief sys- 
tems that are internally inconsis- 
tent, figured out on an ad hoc ba- 
sis. Some have refined their phi- 
losophies to a high degree. What 
they get from the technique is a 
creative boost." 

What sorts of revelations 
emerge during personal anthro- 
pology? A well-known sculptor in 
her seventies discovers in the 
course of the Whys that she has 
a deep-seated confusion about 
who owns her art — she or the col- 
lectors. She resolves it b)/ talking 
to othep artists. A photographer 
whose core issue was a conflict 
between the "internal" and "ex- 
ternal" finds to her surprise that 
this very conflict is the source of 
her creativity. A murderer un- 
earths the real reasons for his 
crime. A divorced mother traces 
her reluctance to remarry to the 
fact that she'd been molested by 
her stepfather and fears a simi- 
lar fate for her teenage daughter. 

Yet personal anthropology is 
emphatically not a form of psycho- 
therapy, according to Case. Un- 
like therapy, it does not start with 
the premise that the client has a 
problem. Psychology emphasizes 
the unconscious, he says, while 
personal anthropology "comes 
out of cognitive anthropology, 
which emphasizes conscious- 
ness. You do an inventory of 
your beliefs. You know the prin- 
ciple of cognitive dissonance? — 
basically, that if your beliefs are 
inconsistent, you feel bad? I like 
to talk about cognitive conso- 
nance. If your beliefs are consist- 
ent, you feel good. Thought en- 
ergy can travel through a person 
most efficiently if that energy Is 
not lost in internal conflicts." DO 



EARTH 



ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME: 

Polluters in one community are [earning that slime doesn't pay 

By Jessica Cohen 




Small-town tactics: 
From Cali- 
fornia to Connect- 
Icui, commu- 
nities across the 
country are 
taking the lead 
In lighting 
assaults against 
the earth. 
Their aggressive 



It was 4:30 on a May afternoon 
when police blocked oft traffic 
in a small industrial park. They 
evacuated two buildings and ques- 
tioned witnesses on the scene. 
Bomb scare? No. A woman walk- 
. ing down the street had reported 
a noxious, dizzying odor. And in 
Santa Rosa, a Northern California 
city of 125,000, environmental vi- 
olations are treated as potential 
criminal offenses— so this was a 
crime scene. A chemical compa- 
ny had been "off-gassing" a 
waste product, allowing it to evap- 
orate into the atmosphere. 

Police and fire officials were ac- 
companied by an assemblage of 
gas, electric; public health, and 
Air Quality Control officials to bal- 
ance investigative expertise with 
technical knowledge. And the po- 
lice investigator would later con- 
sult with Sonoma County's envi- 
ronmental case prosecutor on 
gathering evidence to prosecute. 

But don't count on this precise- 
ly coordinated response to toxic 
fumes, polluted water, or improp- 
erly stored hazardous materials in 
your neighborhood — at least not 
yet. Santa Rosa, along with a 
handful of municipalities scat- 
tered across the nation, is in the 
forefront of a new aggressive ap- 
proach to environmental viola- 
tions. And increasingly they are 
taking offenders to court instead 
of simply slapping them with an- 
noying fines. Some experts be- 
lieve that such grass-roots efforts 



to halt crimes against the planet 
represent its best hope. 

About 90 percent of chemical 
wastes were illegally disposed of 
in the early Eighties, according to 
an Environmental Protection Agen- 
cy (EPA) estimate. Violations of- 
ten occurred at the local level. 
"Most offenders are mom-and- 
pop typeporganizations," says 
Don Rebovich, author of Danger- 
ous Groupd, a new book about 
hazardous wastes. "They tend to 
look like typical businessmen gone 
bad." And in a study of several 
Northeastern states, Rebovich 
found that most violations are re- 
ported not by regulators, but- by 
citizens and local police. 

Federal law mandates that all 
police officers have at least four 
hours of hazardous-materials-re- 
sponse training, and traffic offi- 
cers 20 hours. But now, only the 
most progressive police depart- 
ments go after eco-criminals. 

Santa Rosa's environmental ev- 
olution could be a blueprint for 
communities across America. 
The impetus for change: the po- 
lice's inept response to an inci- 
dent involving fumes in a movie 
theater. Although the fumes 
turned out to be a harmless 
"stink bomb," the case pointed 
up how unprepared the city was 
for an environmental disaster. Lt. 
Scott Swanson, then traffic ser- 
geant, investigated the incident 
and in the process was galva- 
nized to make environmental haz- 



ards a priority issue. 

In a 1988 advanced officers' 
training program, Swanson devel- 
oped a plan to incorporate police 
in enforcing environmental protec- 
tion laws. Police are now alert to 
crime evidence from plumes in 
the creek to suspicious-looking 
substances in dumps. The depart- 
ment also sent an officer to an 
EPA training program in Georgia 
and hopes to assign a full-time en- 
vironmental crime detective. 

Key to the department's effec- 
tiveness is prosecutorial support, 
Swanson says. Sonoma County's 
environmental and consumer law 
unit shows what a savvy prose- 
cutor can do in a small commu- 
nity. In his first year, with a budg- 
et of $266,500, Deputy District At- 
torney Jeffrey W, Holtzman wrest- 
ed more than §400,000 from pros- 
ecutions of environmental and con- 
sumer crimes. When actions are 
filed, the D.A.'s office alleges un- 
fair competition and business prac- 
tices. The warning to polluters: 
They can no longer dismiss pen- 
alties as a cost of doing business. 

While rare, such environmental- 
ly minded prosecution should in- 
crease. The National District Attor- 
neys' Association will soon form 
a centralized information bank to 
share data on environmental cas- 
es, similar to the databanks cre- 
ated for drug and child abuse cas- 
es. Santa Rosa's efforts to fight 
environmental crime could be the 
wave of the future. DO 



Radically raising 

penalties and 

sending polluters 

to Jail. 





cofUTiruuunn 

LET'S PUT ON A SHOW: 

Theatre thrives everywhere in Chicago. Plus, why vultures prey on ; 

Miami building, and fighting the war on caffeine 



Scene: Chicago's North Side. 
Time: Early 1990s and beyond. 
A group of young actors 
known as the Shattered Globe 
Theatre has just presented its 
production of Ronald Har- 
wood's The Dresser. This is guer- 
rilla theatre. Don't look back. 
The play's the thing. The actors 
have already produced a di- 
verse menu of plays, from 
Swiss playwright Max Frisch to 
Britain's Barrie Keeffe, secured 
their own performance space— 
the golden wish of every new 
group in the city — and estab- 
lished a solid administration to 
keep their company going. And they have only been together 
for two years. "This first year was about letting everyone go 
as far as they can go," says Joe Forbrich, one of the found- 
ing members. "We were operating by the seat of our pants, 
learning the business. Now things are getting organized." 

The survival rate of a new theatre company is slim, and 
the actors know it. Indeed, a Chicago theatregoer might 
view these latest aspirants with skepticism — "Not another new 
theatre company!" See, they're used to this. The City of Big 
Shoulders is also the City of Big Theatre, with each week ush- 
ering in a wealth of plays, improvisation, performance art, and 
poetry reading, A large number of these performers are 
just out of college — the twenty-something crowd with a pas- 
sion for live stage work. 

The story on Chicago theatre has been told once before. 
In the early Eighties, local companies such as Steppenwoif 
gained national recognition for their landmark productions 
(Sam Shepard's True West and Lyle Kessler's Orphans) and 
their now-famous resident actors (John Malkovich, Laurie Met- 
calf.) Now, there's a new story. 

The League of Chicago Theatres, a service organization 
for area companies, boasted nearly 120 member theatres 
at the end of 1 992. But nearly a hundred other "renegade" 
groups exist outside the League, performing wherever and 
whenever they can. On any given night, you might find 
Chekhov being done in a church basement. Pub owners now 
thrive by inviting new plays, comedy troupes, and open- 
mike nights into their back rooms. An espresso bar isn't 
just an espresso bar here; it's an espresso bar/bookstore/ 
poetry-reading- workshop space. 

Although other American cities a jch as Seattle and Lou- 
isvffle have strong professional companies and underground 




The Windy City's theatre scene 



movements emerging, the 
mere density of Chicago's 
scene is shaping the art form for 
the century to come. Compa- 
nies have managed to find au- 
diences as diverse as the kind 
of work being presented. The 
Goodman Theatre, the city's old- 
est and most prestigious com- 
pany, continues to produce 
plays that explore different cul- 
tures and classes for its 22,000 
subscribers. Its 1992-1993 sea- 
son will include two plays 
about the African-American ex- 
perience: Two Trains Running, 
by award-winning playwright Au- 
gust VVVson. arc Ike world premiere of Chicagoan Cheryl L. 
West's Puddin' N Pete. . 

The young masterminds behind Shattered Globe have big 
plans for their second year, and with endless hours and per- 
sistence, they could find themselves in the same position as 
thsiF he ghbor across the street. Touchstone Theatre. Found- 
ed by producing artistic director Ina Marlowe in 1985, Touch- 
stone has evolved into what looks like the rising star of re- 
gional theatres in the city. Her company's current season 
embraces the spectrum oi contemporary repertoire: Henrik 
Ibsen's The WiidDuck, Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage, and 
Thomas Babe's Taken in Marriage. 

Marlowe's commitment to her company and its work em- 
bodies the essential spirit of the modern theatre artist. For 
her, it is "a lifetime of work." She produces "language- 
driven" plays that "stir the soul." Even with many artistic and 
financial hurdles in front of her, she plans on her company's 
future. "We believe the audience exists for serious theatre 
and that our vision, determination, and passion will bring 
them to Touchstone." 

The potential for a new American theatre lies in the com- 
munal bonds between theatre artists and the public who sup- 
ports them. It can happen anywhere. The 1992 Pulitzer 
Prize for drama was awarded to The Kentucky Cycle by 
Robert Schenkhan, a six-hour, nine-play epic, which has on- 
ly been produced in Seattle and Los Angeles. It was the 
first Pulitzer awarded to a play that was not produced in New 
York City. This acknowledgment of a nontraditional work by 
an often geocentric award can be seen as a wake-up call 
to those who make theatre and those who enjoy it: The fu- 
ture of playmaking is wide open. The stage is set. It is up to 
us to collectively raise the curtain.— STEPHEN SERPAS 




ruTiruuunn 




T'jr vultures :±ii:y fte 3 : ino ■:'■ ^ia-'ni .? sh.yi-irs 



A ROOF WITH 
A VIEW 

Every year,- about two weeks 
before Halloween, hundreds 
of turkey vultures descend 
on Miami like snowbirds from 
hell, roosting in the daytime 
on the pyramid-shaped roof 
of the Dade County Court- 
house. They remain in town 
all winter, soaring up to 
25,000 feet over the busy 
downtown area and commut- 
ing for offal to the city's 
garbage dumps or the 
Everglades. 

Since the courthouse was 
built in 1925, the huge birds 
have migrated irom New 
York, Ontario, and other 
northeastern nesting 
grounds to the stepped roof 
that still towers above most 
nearby buildings. They like 
the roof because they can 
simply step off and catch a 
rising thermal like an 
elevator, effortlessly riding it 
to search for food. 

Trie turkey vultures (Calhar- 
tes aura) began migrating to 
Florida "long before the 
courthouse existed," says 
biologist Sheila Parness 
Gaby. The arrival of the big 
birds — "the only major winter- 

26 OMNI 



ing population of urban 
turkey vultures in North 
America," Gaby, says- 
signals the end of the 
svvehering summer in South 
F'crida and the onrush of the 
more lucrative snowbirds 
who fill the hotels and condos 
all winter. By the first week in 
May, the snowbirds and the 
vultures have departed. 

The birds cast a bizarre 
and ominous shadow over 
the courthouse, symbolic of 
the business conducted 
below them. Jokes abound 
about how the vultures on the 
roof are attracted by a 
professional kinship to the 
lawyers in the courts below, 
according to Gaby. 

About 300 turkey vuitures 
may occupy the roof at one 
time. They spend the nights 
roosting in trees on nearby 
islands but return to the roof 
each day. Gaby, who wrote 
her doctoral thesis on the 
vultures, says the same 
vultures probably visit the 
i oo i each yos'.— 3er Bsrber 



"Fear no! that thy life shall 
come to an end but 

rather fear it shall never 
have a beginning. 1 ' 

— Cardinal Newman 



FEED ME, MICROBE 

Plants in the legume, 
famjly, including beans and 
alfalfa, sing- a siren's song 
of symbiosis for a soil 
bacterium called rhizobium. 
The legumes emit chemical 
signals to which rhizobia 
respond by setting up 
colonies in the plants' root' 
systems. There, they lead a 
sheltered life for which, they 
pay by helping the plants 
capture, nitrogen, a valua- 
ble nutrient, from the 
surrounding air. 

Armed with those in- 
sights and more about the 
cozy relationship between 
plants and bacteria, .Stan- 
ford University biologists 
have.- identified a molecular 
and genetic switch that . 
may eventually allow agri- 
cultural scientists to deliver 
customized, genetically engi- 
neered pesticides and 
nutrients with unerring 
accuracy to root systems, in 
need of them. 

"This provides a level of 
finesse .that we haven't had 
before." explains Sharon 
Long, who directed the 
research. "We have discov- 
ered the gene response 
mechanism that the mi- 
crobes use to pick- up- 
signals, and we have 
identified the exact piece of 
DMA that picks it up." 

In effect, the scientists 
have located a key 
segment of the rhizobium 
microbe's. genetic code 
that functions .as -an 
activator, responding to 
chemical messages from 
the individual legume. The 
discovery means that 
biologists' can. now use 



■ ■■: i i ■! ■!" , 'iicing tech- 
niques to attach similar 
switches to the genes of 
new, custom-designed mi- 
crobes capable of produc- 
ing either pesticides or 
nutrients. When a plant's . 
chemical signals, turn the 
switch oh, the special 
microbes will release a. 
pesticide or nuiuen:, de- 
pending on- which is need- 
ed, according to Long. 

Such precision delivery 
wi-l make ii harder for most 
insects to build, immunities 
to pesticides because they, 
won't- come in direct 
contact with them. Also, 
pinpoint targeting of nutri- 
ents will minimize the 
possibility of fertilizing 
weeds along with crops. 

"It gives you regulatory 
control over what your 
microbes are doing," says 
Long, who has no. ready 
explanation for the botani- 
cal phenomenon, "Doubt- 
less it's a product of long 
coevolution, but no one has- 
a good explanation." 

' ' — George Nobbe 



Rhizobium helps alfalfa grow. 





Oil tram industrial users like railroads is being recycled. 



GREASING THE 
WHEELS OF 
PROGRESS— WITH 
RECYCLED OIL 

U.S. motorists generate 
about 1.3 billion gallons of 
used motor oil a year, which 
they have a tendency to 
dump into landfills where it 
pollutes ground water sourc- 
es, according to the 
Environmental Protection Agen- 
cy. Now a Houston company 
has come up with an 
inexpensive way to recycle 
used lubricants into high- 
quality gasoline and home 
heating fuel. 

Since March, Lyondell 
Petrochemical has been 
processing 500 barrels a day 
of used motor oil obtained 
from various large industrial 
users, quick-oil-change busi- 
nesses, and municipal oil- 
collection programs. 

"It's a fairly straightforward 
technology." says Lyondell's 
president and chief execu- 
tive officer Bob G. Gower, 
noting that his company 
screens the used oil three 
times for unwanted chlorides 



and oxygenates before 
blending it with crude oil and 
so~e refined hydrocarbons. 
The mixture is then separat- 
ed under extreme tempera- 
tures, resulting in grades of 
gasoline and heating oil that 
Gower claims are "of the 
same high quality we 
normally get from crude oil." 

Currently, Lyondell plans 
to continue collecting used 
lubricants from only the 
sources already involved in 
the recycling project. Gower 
points out that some gasoline 
retailers already accept 
used oil from individual 
motorists. "We're not set up 
to handle that right now," he 
adds, "but we think systems 
like that will develop." 

Lyondell intends to recycle 
some 30 million gallons of 
lubricants yearly and substi- 
tute them for raw crude in its 
own refining operation, 
Gower says. That volume 
equals the dirty oil produced 
by 25 million passenger cars. 
If other refiners follow suit, he 
says, "it will have asigniiioa"it 
impact on the environment 
and reduced oil imports. 



We're perfectly willing to 
provide our technology and 
information to others." 

— George Nobbe 



"If you are to persuade, 
you must appeal to interests 
rather than intellect. " 

— Benjamin Franklin 

IT'S A BOY— AGAIN 

Genetic engineering 'still 
has a way to go before it can 
match the ability of the 
howling monkeys of Costa 
Rica: The creatures, whose 
impressive leonine roars 
belie their diminutive size, 
can apparently select the sex 
of their offspring, it's a good 
thing they can, because 87 
percent of the infants bom to 
females on the bottom rung 
of the howler social ladder 
die before their time. 

"With more male offspring, 
the females have a better 
chance for their genes to be 
maintained in the general 
population because of this 
greater genetic return," says 
Kenneth E. Glander, a 
priraiologisi. who directs the 
Duke University Primate 
Center in Durham, North 
Carolina. He has spent 22 
years studying howlers in the 
tropical dry forests of 
Guanacaste, Costa Rica, 
near the Nicaraguan border. 
There, he noticed that 
groups of the black animals 
seemed to be evenly divided 
between males and females, 
even though some mothers 
had produced as many as 
nine babies, all male. The two 
that survived in one such 
family later controlled, many 
females, an oddity that 
intrigued him. 

The key seems to iie in the 



ion concentration, or electri- 
cal potential, in the female 
howler's reproductive or- 
gans. Examining sedated 
monkeys, Glander found a 
significant ion variation 
between the vagina and the 
opening of the uterus. He 
theorizes that positive charg- 
es restrict sperm with 
positive X chromosomes, 
which often produce fe- 
males, but support negative- 
ly charged Y chromosomes, 
which result in males. 

"This is not a reasoned, 
conscious decision by the 
female," he says. "It is 
somehow selected for her by 



LIGHTNING FLASHES 

DOWNWARD 

AS FAST AS 1,000 MILES 

PER SECOND, 

OR 3.6 MILLION MILES 

PER HOUR. 

A 100-TON BLUE WHALE 
EATS ABOUT 
FOUR TONS OF KRILL 
EACH DAY. 



nature. When she goes into 
estrus, she is responding to 
hourly bodily changes that 
could be the result of what 
she eats." 

Glander plans to work with 
more howlers to confirm his 
belief that mating females 
alter the ion concentration of 
their reproductive organs by 
eating foods rich in potassi- 
um and sodium, which 
produces males, and shun- . 
ning plants containing calci- 
um and magnesium, which 
would lead to more females. 
— George Nobbe 




coRJTiajuunn 






Canning cancer- Now rosea: ch usss pec!':::, which binds jellie: 



BEATING THE 
SPREAD 

One of the key problems in 
combating cancer is stop- 
ping metastasis, the spread 
of malignant cancer cells 
throughout the body. David 
Piatt and Avraham Raz, 
researchers at the Michigan 
Cancer Center in Detroit, 
may have found a way to 
arrest that deadly spread by 
means of an unlikely 



spread occurs when tumor 
cells clump together in the 
bloodstream, eventually lodg- 
ing in a capillary. From there, 
:he malignant cells can bore 
"trough the blood-vessel 
wall, invading surrounding 
tissues and organs. The trick, 
Raz says, is to keep these 
cells from clinging together, 
and that's where the modriec: 
citrus pectin comes in. Once 
injected Into the blood- 
stream, the MCP attaches to 



THE OLDEST IRON DAGGER IN THE WORLD WAS 
UNEARTHED AT UR IN PRESENT- 
DAY IRAQ. THE WEAPON WAS FORGED 5,000 
YEARS AGO FROM A METEORITE. 



agent — modified citrus pec- 
tin (MCP). Pectins are 
complex carbohydrates 
found in the cell walls of all 
fruits and vegetables, and 
they are commonly used to 
bind jams and jellies. 
A crucial step in cancer's 

28 OMNI 



just one or two stray tumor 
cells in the blood, which is 

enough to prevent larger 
aggregates from forming. 

In experiments with mice, 
nravencjs inactions of 
MCP completely blocked the 
advance of melanoma eel s 



to the lungs. Raz is currently 
conducting experiments 
to determine reasonable 
doses. He will then apply to 
the National Institutes of 
Healii" for permission to test 
MCP on humans. 

The researchers anticipate 
no side effects because 
pectin is completely nontox- 
ic. MCP won't replace 
conven!''::-'"!?:! -adiation and 



chemical therapy, Raz says. 
"But by limiting the total 
number of tumor cells in the 
body, it can make that 
therapy more effective." 

— Steve Nadis 



"Don't be afraid to take 
a big step. You 
can't cross a chasm in 
two short jumps." 

— David Lloyd George 



SLIPPING INTO 
TWO-WHEEL DRIVE 

Ever wipe out on your 
bike when hitting a patch of 
sand or gravel or when 
riding on wet, icy roads? 
The two-wheel drive bike 
may solve your problems. 

Invented by entrepreneur 
Bill Becoat, the new 
contraption operates like a 
conventional bike, save for 
a strong cable linking the 
two wheels. As a rider 
pedals, extra gearing 
transmits torque from the. 
back axle through a 
flexible, spinning, steel 
cable to gears that drive the 
front axle. Like a four-wheel- 
drive car, power is sent to 
all ■■/■.■■heels. Therefore,, if one 
wheel slides or spins on a 
slick surface, the other 
retains its grip. Every one of 
the hundreds of riders who 
have tested his bikes, 
Becoat says, have testified 
to experiencing greater 
traction, more stability, and 
better handling as they 
cruised over varied terrain. 

Pedaling also comes 
easier. Because the torque 
is split between the wheels, 
the bike has 10 to 30 
percent less rolling resist- 
ance than reguiar bicycles, 



appending on the surface; 
■ according to Richard Klein, 
a professor at the University 
of Illinois and a leading' 
theorist on the- mechanics 
of bicycles, who consulted 
with Becoat during the 
bike's development. 

Becoat's quickly growing 
St. Louis, Missouri, compa- 
ny, called 2-Bi-2, has sold. 
more than 5,000 bikes... On 
average, the bicycles 
■■,vei;;ih several pounds more 
and cost $40 to $100 more 
than their single-wheel- 
drive counterparts. 

Why hasn't the world 
clamored all along for 
two-wheel drive bikes? 
"Just because no one ever 
envisioned it," says Becoat, 
a former building contractor 
who admits to stumbling o 
the idea after growing l.i'ed 
of f'xi-ig the loose .chain on 
his son's bike. 

— Mark Fischetti 



OiCyOi? 





coruTiruuurm 




THE COFFEE HABIT? 

There's no Coflee Drink- 
ers Anonymous yet, but 
some psychiatrists feel that 
caffeine consumption may 
pose more of a problem 
than we think; They would 
like to see caffeine 
withdrawal classified as a' 
legitimate psychiatric con- 
dition in the next revision of 
the American Psychiatric 
Association's Diagnostic 
and Statisticai Manual. 

According to. psychiatrist 
John Hughes of the 
University of Vermont, 
evidence exists for caffeine 
withdrawal. Studies have 
shown that some people 
.Suffer from headaches, 
fatigue, and drowsiness- 
signs of withdrawal — when . 
given decaffeinated Java. 
rather than the real-thing. 

So far, there's no 
evidence of caffeine abuse 
or dependence, but' be- ' 
cause these haven't actual- 
ly been studied, Hughes- 
says,, the jury is still out. He- 
traces this scientific neglect 
to. the. lack of medical 



problems-stemming from 
caffeine use. "Our society," 
he says, "is not worried 
about drugs of depend- 
ence unless they have 
medical consequences:" 
Even so, he suspects future 
studies may show that 
caffeine does have nega- 
tive effects on the health of 
some people. 

In his practice, Hughes 
has seen patients with ■ ■ 
behavioral problems, such 
as restlessness, insomnia, 
and difficulty concentrating,' 
that he. attributes .to caffeine 
intoxication. Many. patients, 
also report that caffeine 
worsens their anxiety disor- 
ders, he. says, and some 
evidence indicates that it 
causes panic attacks in 
certain ceopie. 

But don't get anxious 
about your coffee habit just 
yet. Hughes is not 
optimistic that : caffeine 
withdrawal will achieve, the 
status of a psychiatric 
condition in the. revised 
edition of the Manual. "1 
wouldn't bet on it," he 
says. — Paul McCarthy 



I CAN'T GET NO 

SATISFACTION 

HORMONE 

Scientists recently found 
that oxytocin, a chemical 
discovered 90 years ago thai 
has become one of the 
most employed obstetrical 
drugs in the United States, 
can give rise to a number of 
"saiisfaetion states." While 
researchers have only begun 
to explore its possible 
applications, they speculate 



cautions that much more 
study is needed on how 
oxytocin works and how its 
aciions are modified by other 
hormones and chemicals, 
but he says oxytocin 
research may lead to drugs 
That aiieviate birth blues. 
depression, and premenstru- 
al syndrome. Scientists have 
also found oxytocin recep- 
tors in the thymus, implying 
that it may have an effect on 
the immune system as well. 
Exactly how it works "is the 



IN ONE YEAR, LIGHT TRAVELS 6,000 BILLION MILES. 

WHILE LIVING IN MEMPHIS FROM 1 866 

TO 1867, THOMAS EDISON INVENTED A DEVICE 

TO ELECTROCUTE COCKROACHES. 



that it could prime fema'cs lor 
sex, strengthen monoga- 
mous relationships, relieve 
penile dysfunction, generate 
blissful satisfaction and 
bonding between mothers 
and their nursing infants, 
make females act maternal 
with children, relieve depres- 
sion, and even make friends 
stay friendly. 

In humans and other 
mammals, oxytocin is re- 
leased by the body's pituitary 
gland, thus entering the 
bloodstream. Researchers 
have found that the chemical 
is also present in the brain, 
linking it to a host of 
satisfaction states. 

This so-called satislact on 
hormone "may mediate the 
good feelings animals have 
in all sorts of interactions," 
says Jack Caldwell, research 
assistant professor of psychi- 
atry at the University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill. He 



s ixty-f ou r-thousand-d ol lar q ues- 
tion," he says. 

So when can you run 
down to the store for some 
oxytocin diet or sex or 
an; depression pills? Not 
soon. So far, Caldwell says, 
the hormone can be 
administered only by injec- 
tion, nasal spray, or as an 
agonist, a chemical that fits 
an oxytocin receptor though 
it differs slightly from the 
original. And while there are 
paients out on such agonists, 
they're far from being ready 
for mass use, 

— Peggy fJoonan 



"If you stay in Beverly 
Hills too long, you become 
a Mercedes. " 

—Robert Bedford 

"If you want to have 

clean ideas, change them as 

often as your shirts. " 

—Gilbert Adair 




ARTICLE BY MARCELO GAMES 



Bipedal walking has been withtis, 

has characterized our kind since the proposed 

evolutionary beginning 

PHOTOGRAPH BY 
EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE . 



MOST PEOPLE WALK EVERY DAY, SEV t=EREKT 

CONTEXTS. WE WALK m Mr ^ND FROM, L * ROUND. 

ABOUT. AND BETWEEK OF LIKE BREATHiNG~W£ DO IT SO OFTEN AND IT 



think-about it.-But if we did think about- 
it. we. would soon realize that, simple,.. 
rrill, bipedal walk- 
ing is among the most crucial and defin- 
ing elements'of human nature. Hu- 
mans, in fact., are.the only mammals 
on Earth designed to walk in a habitu- 
ally upright position, using only the 
hind limbs ■ for locomotion while reieas 
ing the: foreiimbs to a myriad of "ex- 
tratocomotor" activities, Not even the 
Great Apes, our closest living relatives, 
can lay claim to. this particular eccen- 
tricity. So unique is the notion and the-' 



architecture of bipedal walking thai it 
may very well.be the hallmark of- our- 
species: We. are, in essence., the. way 
we walk. ■•■•■ 

in the early days, of anthropology, 
back at the turn of the century whs-n 
Darwinism was. shedding, its -baby 
teeth ano -tfhropoio- 

safnestthe process 
of full-blown public deliberation over the 
■ origins. of humanity, the major-consen- 
sus was that'the -development of a 
large. brain had been the principal .fac- 
tor in the. establishment of the human 
species, for years, scholars consid- 



ered, intelligence— abstraction; 
guage, consciousness—to be the ev- 
olutionary guide to human uniqueness. 

The argument began' roughly as fol- 
lows: if human beings evolved from a 
common apelike ancestor, and human 
beings are .most visibly distinguished 
'. .from apes by their high level of physi- 
cal, technological, and intellectual 
scf/r Plication, it follows, that -some ma- 
jor adaptive element, such as brain 
growth, .must have been selected to in- 
itiate this .distinction. 

The physical evidence for an early 
human. ancestry; which at the turn of 



35 



£. BEYOND 

f^- AFRICANUS 
iHsf^ The rnos,: irn P ortant 
^^['•Tft clue to the antiqui- 
jffPw ty of bipedalism 
^"i&wf'' anci tne hominid 

* -iM structure since Ray- 

/tfr^ mond Dart's discovery of 
A. africanus probably lies in 
the humble remains of the now- 
famous "Lucy," the oldest (approxi- 
mately 3.8 million years) and most tran- 
sitional of the early human prototypes. 



Everything about Lucy [genus Aus- 
tralopithecus afarensis) suggests tran- 
sition. She had a small brain, similar 
in size to that of a common chimpan- 
zee. Her arms and fingers were long 
and powerful, much like those of a 
chimpanzee. Her legs, however, 
were also long and powerful — more, 
like a human's. Her teeth were ar- 
ranged in a rectangular fashion with- 
in the mandible and maxilla, and 
they were characterized by large ca- 
nines and incisors (not quite as 
large as a chimp's .but much larger 
than a human's). 

Lucy's most significant link with hu- 



manity may be revealed in the pelvis 
and lower-limb structures, which clear- 
ly were designed to function in an al- 
most completely bipedal manner. The 
only major difference, according to var- 
ious scholars, between Lucy and our- 
selves, as far as locomotion is con- 
cerned, is that she was designed to 
be a little more versatile: Lucy ap- 
pears to have been just as comfort- 
able climbing a tree as she was stroll- 
ing across the grasslands. Aus- 
tralopithecus afarensis, it is argued, 
may have lived both on and off the 
trees, emphasizing over time the 
more adaptive terrestrial mode. 



"THE QUESTION OF WHAT CAME FIRST IN HUMAN ORIGINS REMAINS A SIZZLING 
TOPIC OF CONTROVERSY IN THE FOREFRONT OF ANTHROPOLOGICAL RESEARCH." 



the century \\K\\citeo a prehistory of per- 
haps 800,000 years, consisted primar- 
ily of skulls, skull fragments, teeth, up- 
per-leg bones, stone tools, and living 
sites, all of which suggested a big- 
brained, tool-manufacturing, upright- 
walking, relatively intelligent humanlike 
ancestor. Somehow, for whatever rea- 
sons, our earliest representatives devel- 
oped uncommonly large brains, 
which sparked creativity and invention, 
and which, in turn, ignited technology. 
Technology required manipulation 
and precision, and what better than the 
ever- versatile primate fingers to manip- 
ulate precisely? The fingers, hands, 
and arms, now busy with the manipu- 
lating of technology, could no longer 
be used for walking — hence, the de- 
velopment of bipedal locomotion and 
all the rest of what would come to 
characterize the human form. Intelli- 
gence, the scholars concluded, was 
the crucial motivating factor in the di- 
vergence of human from the rest of the 



MORE CLUES 

TO "HUMANNESS" 

Dart's assignment of the original A, af- 
ricanus skull to hominid status, while 
initially, perhaps, determined by the 
placement of the foramen magnum, 
also relied on several very suggestive 
and consistent dental features, 

1. Arrangement: The human mandi- 
ble and maxilla — the lower and upper 
jawbones — are characterized by a 
curved or arched arrangement of the 
teeth within them. This is because our 
faces are flat; little aside from the 
tips of our noses tends to be more 
prominent in profile than our fore- 
heads. In apes, the arrangement is 




more like a rectangle. The entire 
mouth of an ape projects outward 
like a snout, far beyond what amounts 
to an almost nonexistent forehead. 

2. Size: Human faces are flat be- 
cause the front teeth — incisors and ca- 
nines — are small. They are small be- 
cause, among other reasons, we no 
longer use them for any major physi- 
cal or tactical maneuvering, such as 
tearing bark from a tree trunk or ward- 
ing off a potential enemy, (We have 
guns and knives and hatchets for 
things like that.) Ape faces are 
prognathic — they stick out — precise- 
ly because apes do use their front 
teeth for major physical and tactical 
maneuvering. Ape canines are huge 



animal kingdom. 

Ironically, intelligence has all but prov- 
en itself a byproduct, the result of a far 
deeper structural variation of an other- 
wise common primate mold; In 1925, 
the notion of brain growth as the seed 
of human fruition received the first offi- 
cial challenge to its credibility. An anat- 
omist named Raymond Dart an- 
nounced the discovery of an apelike- 
humanlike skull far more primitive than 
anything yet recorded and endowed 
with- an embarrassingly tiny noggin. 
Key to Dart's .assessment of the 
skull's "humanness" (as opposed to 
"apeness") was the location of a very 
special hole at its base. 

This hole, a common feature al the 
bottom of every skull, the entryway of 
the spinal cord to the brain, is the pin- 
nacle upon which the head is bal- 
anced in relation to the body. It is 
called the foramen magnum, and it 
may well be the most telltale clue as 
to the humanness of an otherwise 

and rather intimidating next to our 
mere ancillary protuberances. 

3. Shape: Human molars, which 
are large in relation to the front teeth, 
primarily because they do the bulk of 
food processing before swallowing, 
tend to wear flatly and evenly and are 
housed in a thick enamel coating. 
Ape molars, which are relatively con- 
sistent in size with the front teeth, 
tend to wear sharply and in uneven 
ridges and peaks while being char- 
acterized by a thin enamel coating. 

In these categories, A. africanus 
consistently appeared more human- 
like than apelike, a pattern which 
would carry over to the many and var- 
ied discoveries that followed. 



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quesiiori.-ib e cranium. Only in humans, 
apart from all the other primates with 
whom we share the same basic anatom- 
ical machinery, is the foramen magnum 
centered in the skull so that the head 
rests upon a vertical midline. This place- 
ment is the function, the result, the call- 
ing card of bipedal locomotion. 

Most mammals are quadrupedal 
(four-legged) or, in some cases, quact- 
rumanal, as in arboreal monkeys who 
use all fours to climb and swing and 
leap. The "locomotor apparatus" — the 
spinal column in association with the 
skull, pelvis, and limbs — is typically de- 
signed like a bridge with lour legs. Ba- 
sically, the spinal column spans from 
the neck to the pelvis in a slight arch 
so that weight and gravity are absorbed 
and displaced along a horizontal irain 
of more or less equally sized vertebrae. 
The foramen magnum in these animals 
is located near the back of the skull so 
that the head "hangs" from the neck 
like the scoop of a backhoe. The pel- 
vis is long and narrow and lies at an an- 
gle to the femur (thigh bone) so that the 
hip ioini lies beh nd and below the hor- 
izontal midline, directly across from and 
parallel to the forelimbs. 

In humans, the locomotor apparatus 
is designed like a column. At the top, 
the spine begins with a single outward 
arch but gradually curves inward to- 
ward the lumbar region (lower back) to 
form a second arch, thus moving the 
midline oi the trunk forward so that it is 
centered, along with the skull and fore- 
limbs, directly above the hip joint. 
Weight and gravity, therefore, are ab- 
sorbed and displaced along a vertical 
continuum of gradually enlarging ver- 
tebrae. The skull balances rather than 
projects. The pelvis, shortened and 
flared like the wings of a butterfly, is 
aligned with the femur and i es beneath 
and around the midline. The human 
walks upright, stacked like a tower rath- 
er than extended like a clothesline. 

Dart was able to identify the human- 
oid, or hominid, positioning of the fora- 
men magnum as well as several homi- 
nid dental characteristics on the anc'ren; 
skull he recovered from Africa's distant 
past. Citing this evidence and the fad 
that the brain was no larger than a 
chimpanzee's, he proposed that the hu- 
man walking mode — the blueprint for 
bipedality — not the growth of gray mat- 
ter had been the first true "gait" to the 
grand fluorescence of humankind. The 
skull was that of a mere child, howev- 
er, and, perhaps because adults seem 
always to know best, critics dismissed 
its importance, reminding Dart that even 
in the modern world, the distinguishing 
features observed between adult hu- 
mans and chimpanzees are fuzzy until 



they develop into adolescents. 

In addition, Dart could offer only one 
example of this supposed "humanape"; 
far more evidence would be needed to 
substantiate his claim. The little skull 
was deemed indeterminate, and the bud- 
ding world of anthropology happily 
turned its large brain aw'ay from Dart 
and the audacious suggestion that in- 
telligence might not be the root of hu- 
man uniqueness. It was only a matter 
of time, of course, before curiosity 
turned up more of Dart's humanapes — 
adults, no less, and still lacking in 
brain development what they more 
than made up for in bipedal architec- 
ture. Included among the supporting ev- 
idence were leeth, skulls, vertebrae, leg- 
and arm-bone fragments, pelvic frag- 
ments, and the very crucial pieces — 
parts of feet. 

The foot, to divert for a moment, like 
the foramen magnum, spinal column, 
and pelvis, is a major signifier of biped- 
alisrn. Like the pelvis, it has been 
reshaped or molded to accommodate 
the otherwise awkward two-legged 
gait. In all primates, minus humans, the 
foot is designed much like the hand — 
and quite rightly, seeing that both are 
utilized for the same basic purposes: 
walking, climbing, grasping. In the com- 
mon primate foot, therefore, the big toe, 
like the thumb of the hand, is separat- 
ed from the other toes and is highly flex- 
ible or "opposable." 

In humans, because weight has 
been transferred to the vertical midline 
and centered through the pelvis, along 
the legs, and down to the feet, the big 
toe has become an important stabiliz- 
er to the successful execution of the bi- 
pedal stride. The stride, or gait, is com- 
posed of a series of skeletomuscular ac- 
tions (heel-strike, flat-foot, toe-off) which 
combine to produce two major phases 
of motion — stance and swing — each 
occurring simultaneously between the 
two legs. The stance phase occurs in 
the leg supporting' the body as the oth- 
er, in swing phase, moves forward to 
take over Stance begins with the heel- 
strike; body weight moves across the 
heel, along the outer edge of the foot 
(flat-toot), and then inward to the ball 
of the foot and the big toe where toe- 
off occurs, and the body is propelled 
in a forward direction. Swing phase be- 
gins with toe-off and proceeds through 
a series of muscular contractions that 
swing the leg forward, pulling up the 
knee and pivoting the body around the 
stance leg toward the end of the swing 
and the beginning of a new step (heel- 
strike, fiat-foot, toe-off). 

The human walks or "strides" with a 
relatively smooth, straight, and bal- 
anced flow, while an ape in the upright 

C0NIIN-JE0ONPAGE-B7 



THE OfUirUI/ALCOR IMMORTALITY CONTEST 



QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT CRT 



AND HOW TO ENTER OUR REVOLUTIONARY CONTEST • BY CHARLES PLATT 



will raise substantial social issues. Do we want to 
spend money and resources maintaining millions of people 
who are being kept in cold storage? And why should any- 
one in the future take the trouble to revive these human "corp- 
sicles"? 

In consultation with the Alcor Life Extension Foundation 
(which has more members than any other cryonics group), 



Have there been any experiments freezing animals? 
Yes, although research has been sporadic and underfunded. 
In- the 1950s, hamsters whose brains and bodies had been 
partially frozen were revived by a British researcher, Audrey 
Smith, in a series of experiments in Great Britain. In the 1960s, 
isolated cat brains were frozen to very low temperatures, 
stored for several months, and then rewarmed, at which 



I've compiled a lis! of questions that are frequently asked point electrical activity — brain waves — spontaneously re- 



about cryonics — and I've given some possible 

What exactly is cryonics? 

Cryonics is the process of freezing human beings after 
death in the hope that medical science may be able to re- 
vive them in the future, 

How is it done? 

Immediately after death — ideally, within a matter of minutes— 
the patient is put on a heart-lung machine to keep oxygen- 
ated blood circulat- 
ing through the 
body. Glucose and 
medications are in- 
jected to sustain 
cells that would oth- 
erwise be damaged. 
At the same time, the 
patient's temperature 
is reduced as quick- 
ly as possible. 

If the patient is lo- 
cated a long way 
from the cryonics or- 
ganization, all of his 
or her blood is re- 
placed with a chemi- 
cal that's normally 
used to preserve or- 
gans for transplant. 
The patient is then 
flown to the cryonics 
facility and is per- 
fused with a special 
solution of glycerol, 
which works as an an- 
tifreeze to minimize 
cell damage during 
freezing. The patient 
is cooled to the tem- 
perature of dry ice 
and then transferred 
into liquid nitrogen at 
-320 degrees Fahren- 
heit. At this tempera- 
ture, no biological change occurs, and the patient will re- 
main unchanged for hundreds of years. 

Is there any real evidence that death can be reversed?' 
Fifty years ago, any patient whose heart stopped beating 
was declared legally dead. Today, such cases may be rou- 
tinely revived using CPR and other methods. The medical 
definition of "death" has changed over the years, and we 
can expect future science to revive people who are even 
more "dead" than those being saved today. Consequently, 
cryonicists refuse to give up hope so long as the informa- 
tion in the brain is still intact — the memories and cell struc- 
ture that make us who we are. Elaborate precautions are tak- 
en to preserve brain chemistry and structure before a per- 
son is frozen. 



CRYONICISTS BELIEVE THEY'RE SPENDING 



THEIR MONEY ON A CURE FOR THE MOST 



SERIOUS ILLNESS OF ALL: MORTALITY! 



sumed. This research was conducted by Isamu Suda of the 
Department of Physiology, Kobe University, in Japan. 

How does freezing damage occur? 
When water between cells turns to ice, it squashes the cells 
and tends to puncture them. This damage can be minimized, 
but it can't be completely prevented — yet. Some research 
is being done to develop better "cryoprotectants" so that 
organs can be frozen without damage. Unfortunately, there 
has been hardly any funding in the past 30 years for this 
research. Billions 
have been spent on 
a cure for cancer, 
but no one pays 
much attention to the 
possibility that cryon- 
ics could eliminate 
the specter of mortali- 
ty altogether. 

Can the damage 
caused by freezing 
really be reversed? 
Not yet. Cryonicists 
are pinning their 
hopes on nanotech- 
nology, the concept 
of molecular-sized 
machines popular- 
ized by Eric Drexler 
in his book Engines 
of Creation. Accord- 
ing to Drexler, it 
should be possible 
within a few decades 
to build a "nano ro- 
bot" equipped with 
an onboard comput- 
er and manipulator 
arms, tiny enough to 
be injected into the 
bloodstream. It 
would manufacture 
millions of copies of 
itself, which would 
go around repairing damaged cells one by one. If this 
comes about, there will be some real hope for people in 
cold storage. 

What about memories? Will they be properly preserved? 
Scientists are fairly certain that memories are stored in two 
ways: as links between brain cells and as chemicals in the 
brain. It seems virtually certain that these links and chemi- 
cals are preserved when a person is frozen. Currently, a 
small research project is trying to verify this. 

What happens II there is a power failure? 
Nothing! The capsules that contain cryonics patients do not 
consume any power. Each of them is like a giant thermos 
bottle containing liquid nitrogen, which boils at -320 degrees 




ANNOUNCING THE DnJlfUI/ALCOR 

$100,000 IMMORTALITY CONTEST 



At Omni, we work every month to provide 
ers with a glimpse of possible futures. 

Now, in cooperation with the Alcor Foundation, a 
world leader in cryonics research, we're offering one of 
you the chance to see the future firsthand, to be placed 
in cryonic suspension after death . , . with the possibility 
of being revived in the future. That's a prize worth more 
than §100,000. 

As Charles Piatt's article Shows, the science of cryon- 
ics has come of age. Likewise, medical science contin- 
ues to advance at a phenomenal rate. And that's the 
hope that cryon- 
ics rests upon: In 
the future, medi- 
cal SGience and 
technology may 
reach the point at 
which the cause 
of your death can 
be overcome or 
reversed, so that 
you might be re- 
vived to see for 
yourself the world 
of tomorrow. 

There's never 
been a prize like 
this, nor a contest 
so simple to en- 
ter. All you have 
to do is give the 
subject a little 
thought and put. 
your thoughts on 
paper. 

Why should you 
be placed in cry- 
onic suspension af- 
ter death? What 
would you bring 
tothefuture?Why 
should you be se- 
lected as the win- 
ner of the Omni/ 
Alcor Immortality 
Contest? 

Tell us your reason in 250 words or less. Write an es- 
say telling us why you should be selected for possible 
revival in the future. Entries must be typed or printed. 
That's all there is to it. 

The. essays will be reviewed by a panel composed of. in the contest rules. 
Omni editors, representatives of the Alcor Foundation., and 
science-fiction writer Charles Piatt, The winner will be se- 
lected based on originality and insight into the opportu- 
nities- that cryonics offers. 

Essays become the property of Omni and Alcor. Es- 
says cannot be returned, so keep a copy for yourself. The 
winning essay will appear in Omni and in Cryonics, the 
official publication of the Alcor Foundation, and may be 
used for other promotional purposes.' Your signature on 



ions of read- the entry form constitutes your grant to us of these 
rights. Entrants must be age 21 or over, and the winning 
entrant will agree to a medical examination at Alcor ex- 
pense—for insurance purposes, although eligibility for in- 
surance is not a prerequisite for winning the contest — 
and to the execution of Alcor's standard documents. On- 
ly U.S. residents may enter the contest. The prize is not 
transferable or redeemable for cash. The prizewinner will- 
be required to execute and return an affidavit of e!igibi : :ty 
and release within 21 days of the date on the notification 
letter. Employees of General Media International and the 
Alcor Foundation 
or their relatives are 
not eligible to en- 
ter. For the name 
of the prizewinner, 
send a self-ad- 
dressed stamped 
envelope to Om- 
ni, Immortality Con- 
test Winner, 324 
W. Wendover Ave- 
nue, Greensboro, 
North Carolina, 
27408. 

So warm up 
your word proces- 
sors and teli us 
why you want a 
chance at being 
revived sometime 
in the future. 

Send your en- 
tries to Omni Im- 
mortality Contest, 
324 W. Wendover 
Avenue, Greens- 
boro, North Caro- 
lina 27408. En- 
tries must be post- 
marked by June 
1, 1993, and must 
be accompanied 
by your signature 
on this form or a 
photocopy. 
Enclosed is-my entry in the Omnij/Wcot Immortality Con- 
test. I certify by my signature that I am over 21 years of 
age and reside in the United States of America. My sig- 
nature also assigns ali rights to my essay, as explained 




WIN THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE PLACED IN 



CRYONIC SUSPENSION AFTER DEATH . 



FOR POSSIBLE REVIVAL IN THE FUTURE. 



Name (ple< 
Signature _ 
Address _ 



3 print) 



Fahrenheit. This means that some of it 
gradually evaporates and has to be re- 
placed. Fortunately, liquid nitrogen is a 
nontoxic, natural subslance cheaply 
available from many industrial sources. 
It is delivered in steel cylinders like pro- 
pane gas tanks. 

What if a cryonics organization goes out 
of business? 

In the early days of cryonics, organiza- 
tions were not properly funded. As a re- 
sult, there was a substantial risk of in- 
solvency. However, over the years, cry- 
onics has become better established. 
As a result, the risks have steadily di- 
minished. The Alcor Foundation, for ex- 
ample, has set aside more than a mil- 
lion dollars to pay for the upkeep and 
the eventual resuscitation of 25 frozen 
patients. 

Why should people of the future both- 
er to revive people who are frozen to- 
day? 

Cryonics organizations have a moral 
and contractual obligation to attempt to 
revive their patients who are in their 
care. Also, a future society would be 
just as interested in "people from the 
past" as we would be today if we had 
a chance to revive someone from a pre- 
vious century. 



Won't it be expensive to revive people? 
Mot necessarily. Nanotechnology 
should follow a spiral of diminishing 
costs in the same way as microchips 
and for similar reasons. 

Who would want to live in a world of the 
future? 

Anyone who has a rear sense ot adven- 
ture! Bear in mind that people from 
Third World countries have successful- 
ly relocated in the United States. For 
them, it must have been like a trip into 
the future. Also, when you wake up in 
the twenty-second century, you should 
find that other people who were frozen 
in your time are being revived with you. 
Some of them might even be your 
friends, 



A perpetual trust has been set up in 

Liechtenstein by the Reanimation Foun- 
dation to enable cryonics patients to 
"take it with them." The trust has been 
instructed to use the money primarily for 
reviving patients when the technology 
is available. 



When medicine has advanced enough 



to revive cryonics patients, it should a 
so be able to rejuvenate them. 



Mo one would disapprove if a hospital 
patient spent a lot of money to cure him- 
or herself of a serious illness. Cryoni- 
cists believe they are spending their 
money on a cure for the most serious 
illness of all: mortality! 



In primitive societies, it was natural for 
people to die when they were in their 
twenties or thirties. Currently.it seems 
natural for people to live into their sev- 
enties. In the future, it may seem natu- 
ral for people to live even longer. No 
one in indust nat- 

ural" lifespan anymore. We should 
face the fact that we have already tam- 
pered with life expectancy, and there's 
nothing wrong with this if you believe 
that life is good. 

If people manage to avoid death, won't 
there be overpopulation? 
Some time in the next hundred years, 
scientists may learn how to stop the ag- 
ing process. Obviously, this is going to 
create social upheaval. Governments 




may try to limit the size of families, or 
couples may voluntarily decide not to 
have children in order to preserve their 
quality of life. Other possibilities include 
expansion of humanity into space or rep- 
licating human intelligence in comput- 
ers. The number of patients coming out 
of cryonic suspension will be trivial com- 
pared with factors like these. 

Ifcryonics is so wonderful, why isn't it 
more popular? 

To sign upfor cryonic suspension, you 
have to be willing to face the fact that 
you" will die one day. Very few people 
want to dwell on that. Also, prior to the 
concept of nanotechnology, no one 
could imagine how freezing damage 
could be repaired. 

What if there is an afterlife? 
When you are frozen, you are no long- 
er alive. Therefore, if there is an after- 
life, you should experience it. You can 
think of cryonics as hedging your bets 
just in case an afterlife turns out. not to 
exist. 

Are any fan : avor of cry- 

onics? 

Cryonics is not widely accepted by the 
scientific establishment. Some doctors 
in particular have criticized cryonics as 



being science fiction. Remember, 
though, that .some people said exactly 
the same thing about sp.ace travel be- 
fore men walked on the moon. 

No one can prove that cryonics will 
work. At the same time, no one has 
enough information to prove that it won't 
work. Some scientists have signed up 
to be frozen but are reluctant to admit 
it for fear that it may harm their careers" 
One man who has openly committed 
himself is Ralph Merkle, a research sci- 
enlist at Xerox- PARC in Palo Alto, Cali- 
fornia. Merkle is one of the world's ex- 
perts on nanotechnology and has writ- 
ten papers examining the feasibility of 
cryonics. He believes that if a cryonic 
suspension is properly carried out, 
nanotechnology will offer an excellent 
chance of resuscitation. 

What kinds of people sign up for cry 

All kinds, Most are in the middle-income 
bracket, and they pay for it by taking 
out life-insurance policies that pay the 
cryonics organization when they die. In 
addition, some of the richest people in 
America have signed up. Don Laugh- 
lin, who founded the city of Laughlin, 
Nevada, and has a net worth of around 
$300 million, has talked publicly about 
his involvement in cryonics. Others pre- 



fer to remain anonymous.- 

Is cryonics legal? 

The State of California brought a law- 
suit attempting to outlaw cryonics. This 
was recently de J ca ! ed. Cryonics is cur- 
rently outlawed in British Columbia, Can- 
ada, .but is legal everywhere in the 
United States. 

How do you sign up? " 
Write or call any of the cryonics organ- 
izations and ask them for information. 
Here are the details for Alcor, co-spon- 
sor of our contest: 

Alcor Foundation, 1-2327 Doherty 
Street, Riverside, California 92503: 
(800) 367-2228. This is the largest cry- 
onics organization; it pioneered some 
of the technica. advances in the way cry- 
onic suspensions are performed. 

But if you'd like a free ticket into tomor- 
row, maybe you should enter Omni's cry- 
onics contest. The author of the winning 
entry will receive a free reservation at 
the Alcor Foundation, worth over 
$100,000. For details, see page 43. DO 

Science-fiction writer Charles Piatt, au- 
thor of The Silicon Man, has made ar- 
rangements to be placed in cryonic sus- 
pension after death. 



i 6?uANJT0H D\)a\< 




^W^* ^ 1 " 



CREDITS 
Page 2, top right: John Reader/Sci- 
ence Photo Library; page 2, top mid- 
dle: Daniel Fishman: page 2, bottom 
left: David Michael Kennedy; page 2, 
bottom right: John Reader/Science 
Photo Library; page 4: Catherine Kar- 
now; page 10: James Porto; page 14: 
Veronika Teuber; page 18: Tom Zim- 
berofi; page 22: Peter Liepke; page 
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Market; page 26, top left: Marvin E. 
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Bank; page 26, bottom right: Frank 
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do Alberto Rossi/Image Bank; page 
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ket; page 28, bottom: Veronika Teu- 
ber: page 30: David Jeffrey/ 1 mage 
Bank; page 35: Eadweard Muybridge/ 
The Bettmann Archive; page 36, top 
and bottom: John Reader/Science 
Photo Library; page 78: Gottfried 
Helnwein; page 79, top: Bettmann Ar- 
chive; page 79, bottom: SIPA; page 
80, top right: Kevin Harvey/SIPA; 
page 80, middle: Cliff Feu Iner/I mage 
Bank; page 80, bottom left: J. Ramey/ 
Slock Photos Inc. /Image Bank; page 
96: Tony Wang. 




ARCHITECTS OF TOMORROW 

On a scorching weekend last summer, the VNtorld Future Society held one of its meet- 
ings in Anaheim, California. The futurists could hardly have chosen a more appro- 
priate place. On one side of their convention hotel was Disneyland, the very home 
of innocent, timeless joy, and on the other lay the rapidly changing real world with 
all of its unexpected problems and disquieting fears, 

If the whole world is moving toward tomorrow faster than ever before, it's South- 
ern California that leads the way, The area built its boom years on such high-tech 
industries as oil, aerospace, and the movies. Now it's caught in a morass of prob- 

. ARTICLE BY FREDERIK POHL 



Predicting the future is tough. 

Even tougher is predicting the future— and then changing it 

to fit your plans and desires. 

lems: health-threatening air pollution, year after year of drought, earthquakes omi- 
nously creeping closer to major urban areas, the 1992 South Central Los Angeles 
riots that destroyed a billion dollars worth of property, cutbacks in federal contracts 
that sent a lot of highly paid technical people to the unemployment office, and a 
state government that has had to start paying its creditors with lOUs. After spearhead- 
ing the advance into the expansionist twentieth century, Southern California stands 
first in line for the twenty-first, when all the bills come due. If the science of "futur- 
ology" hadn't existed, the Californians would have to invent it now. 

ILLUSTRATION BY FRED OTNES 



The World Future Society's confer- 
ence on "Creating the 21st Century: In- 
stitutions and Social Change" was 
there to help them puzzle out their pros- 
pects and then take action to remold 
them nearer lo the heart's desire. 

That's how the World Fulure Society 
works. Most people look at the future 
in two ways. Sometimes they think of it 
as a remorseless, monolithic jugger- 
naut, rumbling 24 hours closer every 
day. Sometimes it looks like a giant rou- 
lette wheel on which the little ball may 
land capriciously in this set of circum- 
stances or that — each one filled with dif- 
fering promises or problems— or may- 
be even drop disastrously into the dou- 
ble-zero slot where everybody loses 
and we're wiped out by environmental 
catastrophe or nuclear war. 

The 30,000 members of the World Fu- 
ture Society don't buy either scenario. 
They take a more energetic view of to- 
morrow. They want to probe the whole 
spectrum of possibilities that the future 
holds and alter them to fit the needs of 
the time. "Everybody talks about the fu- 
ture," they say, "but nobody does any- 
thing about it . . . except us." 

Naming the future. Yes, Virginia, 
there is a science — or something — 
with the name of "futurology," or "futur- 
istics," or sometimes just "futures re- 
search" or "future studies"; none of its 
practitioners are thrilled about the 
names by which it goes. They don't all 
agree on just what it is, either. If it's not 
as yet a real science, Howard 
Didsbury of Kean College of New Jer- 
sey considers it at least an academic 
discipline and has prepared a core cur- 
riculum for prospective teachers of the 
subject. Wendell Bell calls it a "transdisci- 
plinary matrix," and Robert Jungk (who 
is not only.a futurist by vocation but ran 
tor president of Austria on a futurist plat- 
form and actually got more than 5 per- 
cent of the vote), a "horizontal field" — 
meaning that futurists specialize in gen- 
eralities. Futurology has fuzzy bounda- 
ries. Since it deals with the whole future, 
it pretty much has to take in every as- 
pect of human affairs, which is why Mi- 
chael Marien, the editor of Future Sur- 
vey, calls it a "multifield." Whatever 
name gets tacked onto it, the World Fu- 
ture Society is the place to find it. 

In the mid 1960s, futurology 
boomed. In that same state of Califor- 
nia, Olaf Helmer and other scientists at 
the RAND (Research ANd Develop- 
ment) Corporation unveiled their DEL- 
PHI procedure for assessing the 
shape of things to come. In Croton-on- 
Hudson, New York, Herman Kahn's 
Hudson Institute devised future-history 
scenarios, while Ted Gordon — himself 
one of the DELPHI pioneers — launched 
52 OMNI 



his Institute, for the Future in Connecti- 
cut. With all those new future-oriented 
think tanks springing up all over, a man 
named Edward S. Cornish, recently 
with the National Geographic Society, 
perceived a need to organize some 
sort of holding company that could 
bring all the future-oriented researchers 
together under one roof. 

That happened in 1966, and Cornish 
called his new creation the World Fu- 
ture Society. It started small, publish- 
ing a single little mimeographed news- 
letter, The Futurist. Then, it began reach- 
ing out. Today, the World Future Society 
operates out of busy offices just outside 
of Washington, DC (7910 Woodmont Av- 
enue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814). 
With a hundred local chapters in the 
United States and assorted foreign coun- 
tries from Argentina to Zimbabwe, it 
sponsors large-scale conferences sev- 
eral times each year, of which the sym- 



tThere has 
probably never been a time 

since the 
invention of language when 

someone 
didn't make his or her living 

by trying 
to guess at what lay ahead. 9 



posium in Anaheim was one. 

The Anaheim gathering was smallish 
by World Future Society standards. It 
brought together less than a thousand 
people, but they came from places as 
far apart as Boston and Bombay. They 
were teachers, businesspeople, scien- 
tists, technologists, and ordinary human 
beings concerned about the way the 
world is going, and they came togeth- 
er to do something about it. 

Technology has turned into the favor- 
ite over-the-counter answer to whatev- 
er goes wrong — and the Anaheim ses- 
sion had plenty of technological fixes 
for various problems. Participants 
could attend sessions on microelectron- 
ics—smart machines, telecommunica- 
tions, networks — and biotechnology — 
everything from the Human Genome Pro- 
ject to biotechnology's prospects for 
dealing with cancer, food supplies, and 
the aging process. And particularly 
heavy attendance marked sessions on 
the future of the passenger car. 
■ Once again, Southern California was 
the right place for this last discussion, 



because it's the area suffering most 
from automobile exhaust. Such 1970s 
innovations as catalytic converters and 
electronic fuel injection have helped cut 
down on pollutants, but the improve- 
ments in individual performance have 
been swamped by growth-in the num- 
ber of cars. For about half of each 
year, the air quality in Los Angeles 
fails to meet standards, and almost the 
entire state wrestles with some degree 
of air pollution caused by auto exhaust. 
California adopted regulations in 1990 
that mandated low- and ultralow-emis- 
sion vehicles by 1997, with zero-emis- 
sion cars ordered to be on the market 
in the following. year, 1998. 

As the best bets to achieve these 
aims, the speakers proposed electric 
cars in one form or another. Electric mo- 
tors don't pollute the air, and they 
make less noise than conventional 
cars. Best of all, they have great start- 
ing torque: A 100 -horse power electric 
motor can outperform a 300-horsepow- 
er gasoline engine. But exactly what 
kind of electric cars future Californians 
will turn to remains unanswered. At the 
meeting, John Reuyl of the Hybrid Elec- 
tric Vehicle Project in Palo Alto, Califor- 
nia, and Frank Chilton, head of his own 
technological consultancy firm, put 
their bets on the "series hybrid" car. 
This type of car has both a gasoline mo- 
tor and an electric one, but the gaso- 
line engine runs 'only to recharge the 
car's batteries. The electric motor actu- 
ally runs the car. Another plus: Since 
the gasoline engine runs at a constant 
speed, manufacturers can fine-tune the 
catalytic converter so that it filters out 
almost all of the pollutants. 

Electric cars are fascinating stuff, but 
this was a multitrack meeting. If you sat 
in on the session with Chilton and 
Reuyl, you missed seven other sessions 
on such topics as the futures of gov- 
ernance, family values, the transfor- 
mation of the workplace, and twenty- 
first-century communications. A lot of fu- 
ture lies ahead of us, and even the 
World Future Society was hard 
pressed to cover it all in a weekend. 

Science and the future. The Vtorld Fu- 
ture Society and the think tanks didn't 
invent the habit of trying to peer into the 
future; they just tried to put it on a sci- 
entific basis. There has always been 
plenty of the other kind. There has prob- 
ably never been a time since the inven- 
tion of language when some old sha- 
man or wise woman of the tribe didn't 
make his or her living by trying to 
guess at what lay ahead. 

Those ancient forecasting methods 
had two drawbacks: First, they simply 
weren't very good at what they did. The 
Greek oracles concealed their inad- 



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equacies by sounding oracular — the 
one at Delphi gained notoriety for cloud- 
ing her prophecies in allegory and hint 
so that whatever happened, she could 
claim a hit. But now and then the em- 
ployers of those old soothsayers or- 
dered them to say something precise 
and checkable, and then they were in 
trouble. A Roman emperor like Tiberius 
was as likely as not to throw his person- 
al astrologer Thrasyllus off a cliff if his 
predictions went sour, while in China, 
an oracle who guessed wrong ran the 
job-related risk of beheading. 

Second, ancient futurology was gen- 
erally custom work. Except for such 
doomsaying ancient prophets as 
' those of the Bible, the classical forecast- 
ers seldom took the holistic point of 
view. They tried to predict the outcome 
of a specific battle or the survival chanc- 
es of a particular individual, but they rare- 
ly attempted any large-scale anticipa- 
tions of the future state of the whole 
world, And when they did (as in the 
case of Nostradamus), they protected 
their batting averages by falling back 
on Delphic doubletalk. There wasn't 
much market for such generalized ser- 
vices because, until quite recently, the 
generalized concept of "the future" hard- 
ly existed, and besides, most things 
just didn't change very much. 

Oh, some specific changes certain- 
ly occurred. One king died and anoth- 
er replaced him; conquerors took over 
one empire and Ihen were taken over 
by another. But there was always a 
king or emperor, and the daily life of 
most people changed hardly at all. In 
many ways, the lives of Americans" in 
1776 bore a closer resemblance to 
those of Europeans under the Roman 
Empire than to our own. 

Then along came the nineteenth cen- 
tury and Ihe Industrial Revolution. 

Without warning, change became a 
fact of life for ordinary men and wom- 
en. By the time they reached their 
three score and ten, ihe world of their 
childhood had vanished. Railroads re- 
placed canals; railroads were, in their 
turn, superseded by cars and airplanes. 
The steam engine, the Jacquard loom, 
the cotton gin, and the mass-production 
assembly line replaced millions of manu- 
al jobs. The telegraph, telephone, tele- 
vision, and fax machine revolutionized 
communications. Now the computer 
has started a whole new revolution of 
its own. We see massive changes oc- 
curring every decade, almost every 
year, and so our attitudes toward the fu- 
ture have changed. We may not know 
exactly what the future will hold, but for 
the first time in the history of the race, 
we are now quite sure that it will defi- 
nitely be different. 

54 OMNI 



The differences won't all be techno- 
logical, either, and the Anaheim meet- 
ing took'full account of -that. The con- 
ference chair, Kenneth Hunter, 
warned against "naive beliefs in simple 
solutions" in his keynote address. Oth- 
er opening speakers dealt with specif- 
ics: L. Sunny Hansen discussed the 
role of women and minorities in defin- 
ing and creating the future; Maureen 
O'Hara, psychological problems and 
solutions; India's Rashmi Mayur, the per- 
ils of environmental destruction. 

Mayur pulled no punches. "I was at 
the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro," he 
said, "and it was a dismal failure. Nine- 
hundred-and-fifty million dollars spent. 
on the conference, two and a half 
years of preparation, thirty-five thou- 
sand people attending from a hundred 
and seventy-two nations-all around the 
world, and it wound up with nothing: no 
population control convention, an agree- 



»lf we 

don't survive together,' 

India's 

Rashmi Mayur says, 

'I don't 

think we will be 

able to 
have any future. 9 



ment on global warming so watered 
down that it meant nothing, a biodiver- 
sity agreement that the United States re- 
fused to sign, a convention on preserv- 
ing tropical forests that was refused by 
the very countries that possess them — 
India, Brazil, Malaysia. The result is 
that every day we are adding human 
life which is totally unsustainable, and 
the whole world is rushing to become 
like the American dream; in all the 
Third World villages, they know what the 
TV shows, and that is exactly what 
they want for themselves." 

Other speakers were more hopeful, 
but all agreed that unless we deal with 
the overwhelming problems of the envi- 
ronment, in spite of all the resistance 
from industry and land developers and 
governments, all other hopes and 
[j\:y,r~: vVili ir-ievitsilily i;;: 1 "Vfe are all in 
the same boat," Mayur said. "If we don't 
survive together, I don't think we will be 
able to have any future." 

In the beginning. Scientific futurolo- 
gy, as distinct from the other kind, 
goes back only until the early days of 



this century, and its prophet was the Eng- 
lish novelist H. G. Wells. 

In 1 901 , Wells' first series of articles, 
"Anticipations," began to appear in the 
magazine The Fortnightly Review. Issue 
by issue, Wells described his bfueprint 
for the future, including its technologi- 
cal, social, and cultural aspects. Some 
of his predictions were dead on — he pre- 
dicted Bosnywash, the 500-mile-long su- 
perstrip city that is now a reality along 
the U.S. Eastern seaboard — and some 
less so, as when he anticipated the de- 
mise of capitalism by the end of the twen- 
tieth century. The articles met with 
great success; so did the books and lec- 
tures that followed from them. Wells 
told his audiences that the "systematic 
exploration of the future" could give the 
world a "working knowledge" of what 
lay ahead, and he suggested how the 
exploration could be carried out: by peo- 
ple he later called "Professors of Fore- 
sight," charged with identifying trends 
and exploring their interaction. 

By, in short, the modern science of 
futurology. 

No Professors of Foresight appeared 
on the world's university campuses in 
1901 , but they were coming. Right af- 
ter World War II, the U.S. Department 
of Defense called on RAND to try to pre- 
dict what technologies might emerge to 
affect future wars. In the process, 
RAND scientists began to develop ex- 
plicit methodologies for estimating fu- 
ture events, and other researchers quick- 
ly followed. 

In one day-long session at Anaheim, 
Didsbury gave a tutorial on these ma- 
jor forecasting techniques. Some, like 
the RAND Corporation's DELPHI and 
Kahn's scenario writing, simply try to as- 
sess probabilities; others, called norma- 
tive, don't try to predict the future. In- 
stead, they concentrate on inventing it, 
on identifying some future situation or 
event deemed desirable and trying to 
define the ways to get there. 

The difference between predictive 
and normative futurology is the differ- 
ence between wondering what will hap- 
pen and making something happen. In 
Anaheim, the normative activists far out- 
numbered the others, and they had a 
hundred different agendas for making 
a better world. 

Yet a feeling prevailed that all the im- - 
provements had to come together or 
none would succeed. Roberto Vargas, 
a Chicano Indian, summed it up when 
he. told one session about the efforts of 
his leaders to get health services for 
their people. "The reason I'm here," he 
said, "is that our elders have come to 
realize thatjhere's not going to be any 
health for our communities until there's 
health for the world. "DO 




ILLUSTRATIONS BYVERN DUFFORD 



C* A f~^T*\ T^l~^\ He woke in 

\Z\( K HI 1 darkness 
UL/vV^-/JL\JL(JLy to the steady 

/ — ^/^"^Vl A T racket of the rails. 
I I |\/\/ Vast unknowable land- 
V^; \^s V V scapes, huse as the 
dreams of childhood, rumbled behind his 
shocked reflection in the carriase pane. 



Jackie smoothed his rumpled 
hair, stretched stiffly, wiped at his 
moustache, tucked the railway 
blanket around his silk-pajama'd 
legs. Across the aisle, two of his 
crew slept uneasily, sprawled 
across their seats: Kumar the 
soundman, Jimmie Suraj his cin- 



ematographer. Suraj had an unlit 
cigarette tucked behind one ear, 
the thin gold chains at his neck 

bunched in an awkward tangle. 

The crew's leading lady, Lak- 
shmi "Bubbles" Malini, came 
pale and swaying down the aisle, 
wrapped sari-like in a souvenir 




Scottish blanket. "Awake, Jackie?" 

"Yaar, girl," he said, "1 suppose 
so." 

"So that woke you. okay?" she 
announced, gripping the seat 
"That big bump just now. That 
bloody lurch, for Pete's sake. It al- 
most threw us from the track." 

"Sit down, Bubbles," he apol- 
ogized. 

'"Dozens die,' okay?" she 
said, sitting. '"Stars director crew 
perish in bloody English tragic 
rail accident.' I can see it ail in 
print In bloody Stardust already." 

Jackie patted her plump hand, 
found his kit bag, extracted a cig- 
arette case, lit one. Bubbles stole 
a puff, handed it back. Bubbles 
was not a smoker. Bad for the 
voice, bad for a dancer's wind. 
But after two months in Britain she 
was kipping smokes from every- 
body. 

"We're not dying in any bloody 
train," Jackie told her, smiling. 
"We're filmwallas, darling. We 
were born to be killed by 
taxmen." - 

Jackie watched a battered rail- 
way terminal rattle past in a spec- 
tral glare of fog. A pair of tall Eng- 
lish, wrapped to the eyes, sat on 
their luggage with looks of 
sphtnxlike inscrutability. Jackie 
liked the look of them. Native ex- 
tras. Good atmosphere. 

Bubbles was restless. "Was 
this all a good idea, Jackie, you 
think?" 



FICTION BY BRUCE STERLING 



take 

the time 



CASIO 



He shrugged. "Horrid old rail lines 
here, darling, ou; they lake life damn 
slow now; the English." 

She shook her head. "This country, 
Jackie!" 

"Well," he said, smoothing his hair. 
"It's bloody cheap here. Four films in 
the can for the price of one feature in 
Bombay." 

"I liked London," Bubbles offered' 
bravely. "Glasgow too. Bloody cold but 
not so bad ... But Bolton? Nobody 
films in bloody Bolton." 

"Business, darling," he said. "Need 
to lower those production costs. The ra- 
tio of rupees to meter of filmstock 
exposed. . . ." 

"Jackie?" 

He grunted. 

"You're bullshitting me, darling." 

He shook his head. "Yaar, girl, Jack- 
ie Amar never bounce a crew cheque 
yet. Get some sleep, darling. Got to 
look beautiful," 

Jackie did not title his own movies. He 
had given that up after his first fifty 
films. The studio in Bombay kept a 

whole office of hack writers to do titles, 
with Hindi rhyming dictionaries at their 
elbows. Now Jackie kept track of his cin- 
ematic oeuvre by number and plot sum- 
mary in a gold-edged fake-leather note- 
book with .detachable pages. 

Jackie Amar Production #127 had 
been his first in merrie old England. 
They'd shot #1 27 in a warehouse in Toot- 
ing Bee, with a few rented hours at the 
Tower of London. Mo, 127 was an ad- 
ventit re/crime/comedy about a pair of 
hapless expatriate twins (Raj Khanna, 
Ram Khanna) who cook up a scheme 
to steal back the Koh-i-noor Diamond 
from the Crown Jewels of England. The 
Khanna brothers had been drunk 
much of the time. Bubbles had done 
two dance numbers and complained bit- 
terly about the brothers' Scotch-tainted 
breath in the.clinch scenes. Jackie had 
sent the twins packing oack to Bombay. 

No. 1 28 had been the first to star Jack- 
ie's English ingenue discovery. Betty 
Chalmers. Betty had answered a clas- 
sified ad asking for English girls 18- 
20, of- mixed Indian descent, boasting 
certain specific bodily measurements. 
Betty played the exotic Brit-Asian mis- 
tress of a gallant Indian military-intelli- 
gence attache (Bobby Denzongpa) 
who foils a plot by Japanese yakuza 
gangsters to blow up the Tower of Lon- 
don. (There had been a fair amount of 
leftover Tower footage from film #127.) 
Local actors, their English subtitled in 
Hindi, played the bumbling comics 
from Scotland Yard. Betty died beauti- 
fully in the last reel, struck by a poi- 
soned ninja blowdart, just after the fi- 



nal dance number. Betty's lines in halt- 
ing phonetic Hindi had been over- 
dubbed in the Bombay studio. 

Events then necessitated leaving Lon- 
don, events taking the shape of a dap- 
per and humorless Indian embassy of- 
ficial who had alarmingly specific ques- 
tions for a certain Javed "Jackie" Amar 
concerning income-tax arrears for 
Rupees 6,435,000, 

A change of venue to Scotland had 
considerably complicated the legal 
case against Jackie, but #129 had 
been born in the midst of chaos. Vet- 
eran soundman Wasant "Winnie" 
Kumar had been misplaced as the 
crew scrambled from London, and the 
musical score of #129 had been done, 
at hours' notice, by a friend of Betty's 
from Manchester, a shabby, scarecrow- 
tall youngster named Smith. Smith, who 
owned a jerry-rigged portable mixing sta- 
tion clamped together with duct tape, 
had produced a deathly pounding rack- 
et of synthesized tablas and digitally 
warped sitars. 

Jackie, despairing, had left the 
score as Smith had recorded it, for the 
weird noise seemed to fit the story, and 
young Smith had worked on percent- 
age — which would likely come to no re- 
al pay at all. Western historicals were 
hot in Bombay this year — or at least, 
they had been, back in '48 — and Jack- 
ie had scripted one in an all-night fren- 
zy of coffee and pills. A penniless Irish 
actor had starred as John Fitzgerald Ken- 
nedy, with Betty Chalmers .as a White 
House chambermaid who falls for the 
virile young president and becomes the 
first woman to orbit the Moon, An old 
film contact in Kazakhstan had provid- 
ed some stock Soviet space footage 
with enthusiastic twentieth-century 
crowd scenes. Bubbles had done a 
spacesuit dance. 

Somewhat ashamed of this excess- 
he had shot the entire film with only 
five hours sleep in four days — Jackie 
gave his best to #130, aforeign dramat- 
ic romance. Bobby Denzongpa 
starred as an Indian engineer, disap- 
pointed in love, who flees overseas to 
escape his past and becomes the own- 
er of a seedy Glasgow hotel. No. 130 
had been shot, by necessity, in the 
crew's own hotel in Glasgow with the 
puzzled but enthusiastic Scottish staff 
as extras. Bubbles starred as an expa- 
triate cabaret dancer and Bobby's 
love interest, Bubbles died in the last 
reel, having successfully thawed Bob- 
by's cynical heart and sent him back to 
India. No. 130 was a classic weepie 
and, Jackie thought, the only one of the 
four to have any chance in hell of mak- 
ing money. 

Jackie was still not sure about the 



plot of No. 131, his fifth British film. 
When the tax (roubles had caught up 
to him in Scotland, he had picked the 
name of Bolton at random from a rail- 
way schedule. 

Bolton turned out to be a chilly and si- 
lent hamlet of perhaps sixty thousand 
English, all of them busy dismantling the 
abandoned suburban sprawl around 
the city and putting fresh paint and flow- 
ers on Bolton's nineteenth-century 
core. Such was the tourist economy in 
modern England. All the real modern- 
day businesses in Bolton were in the 
hands of Japanese, Arabs, and Sikhs. 

A word with the station master got 
their rail cars safely parked on an ob- 
scure siding and their equipment load- 
ed into a small fleet of English pedal- 
cabs. A generous offer to pay in 
rupees found them a fairly reasonable 
hotel. It began to rain. 

Jackie sat stolidly in the lobby that 
afternoon, leafing through tourist bro- 
chures in search of possible shooting 
sites. The crew .drank cheap English 
beer and bitched. Jimmie Suraj the cam- 
eraman complained of the few misera- 
ble hours of pale, wintry European 
light. The lighting boys feared suffoca- 
tion under the mountainous wool blan- 
kets in their rooms. Kumar the sound- 



man speculated loudly and uneasily 
over the contents of the hotel's "shep- 
herd's-pie" and, worse_yet, "toad-in-the- 
hole." Bobby Denzongpa and Betty 
Chalmers vanished without permission 
in search of a disco. 

Jackie nodded, sympathized, tut- 
tutted, patted heads, made empty prom- 
ises. At ten o'clock .he called the stu- 
dio in Bombay. No. 127 had been 
judged a commercial no-hope and had 
been slotted direct to video. No. 128 
had been redubbed in Tamil and was 
dying a slow kiss-off death on the south- 
ern village circuit. "Goidie" Vachchani, 
head of the studio, had been asking 
about him. In Jackie's circles it was not 
considered auspicious to have Goidie ' 
ask about a fellow. 

Jackie left the hotel's phone number 
with the studio. At midnight, as he sat 
sipping bad champagne and studying 
plot synopses from ten years back in 
search of inspiration; there was a call 
for him. It was his son Salim, the eldest 
■of his five children and his only child by 
his first wife. 

"Where did you get this number?" 
Jackie said. 

"A friend," Salim said. "Dad, listen. 
I need a favor." 

Jackie listened to the ugly hiss and 
warble of long-distance submarine ca- 



bles. "What is it this time?" 

"You know Goidie Vachchani, don't 
you? The bio. Bombay lihnwalla?" 

"I know Goidie," Jackie admitted. 

"His brother's just been named 
head of the state aeronautics bureau." 

"I don't know Goldie.very well, mind 
you." 

"This is a major to-do, Dad. I have 
the news on best private background 
authority. The budget for aeronautics 
will triple next Congress. The nation is 
responding to the Japanese challenge 
in space." 

"What challenge is. that? A few weath- 
er satellites." 

Salim sighed patiently. "This is the Fif- 
ties now, Dad. History is marching. The 
nation is on the-wing.". 

"Why?" Jackie asked. 

"The Americans went to the Moon 
eighty years ago." 

"I know they did. So?" 

"They polluted it," Salim announced. 
"The Americans left a junkyard of 
crashed machines up on our Moon. 
Even a junked motor car is there. And 
a golf ball. '"Salim lowered his voice. 
"And urine and feces, Dad. There is 
American fecal matter on the Moon 
that will last there in cold and vacuum 
for ten million years. Unless, that is, the 
Moon is ritual ly purified." 




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"God almighty, you've been talking 
to those crazy fundamentalists again," 
Jackie said. "I warned you not to go in- 
to politics, it's nothing but crooks and 
fakirs." The hissing phone line emitted 
an indulgent chuckle. "You're being 
culturally inauthentic, daddyjil You're 
Westoxicated! This is the modern age 
now! If the Japanese get to the Moon 
first they'll cover if with bloody shopping 
malls." 

"Best of luck to the damn fool Japa- 
nese, then." 

"They already own most of China," 
Salim said, with sinister emphasis, "Ex- 
panding all the time. Tireless^ soulless, 
and efficient." 

"Bosh," Jackie said. "What about us? 
The Indian Army's in Laos, Tibet, and 
Sri Lanka." 

"If we want the world to respect our 
sacred cultural values, then we must vis- 
ibly transcend the earthly realm. ..." 

Jackie shuddered, adjusted his silk 
dressing gown. "Son, listen to me. 
This is not real politics. This is a silly mov- 
ie fantasy you are talking about. A bad 
dream. Look at the Russians and Amer- 
icans if you want to know what aiming 
at the Moon will get you. They're eat- 
ing chaff today and sleeping on 
straw." 

"You don't know Goldie Vachchani, 



Dad?" 

"I don't like him." 

"I thought I'd ask," Salim said sulki- 
ly. He paused. "Dad?" 

"What?" 

"Is there any reason why the Civil In- 
vestigation Division would want to inven- 
tory your house?" 

Jackie went cold. "Some mistake, 
son. A rnixup." 

"Are you in trouble, daddyji? I could 
try to pull some strings, up top. . . ." 

"No no," Jackie said swiftly. 
"There's bloody horrid noise on this 
phone, Salim — I'll be in touch." He 
hung up. 

Half an anxious hour with the script 
and cigareites got him nowhere. At 
last he belted his robe, put on warm slip- 
pers and a nightcap, and tapped at Bub- 
bles' door. 

"Jackie," she said, opening it, her 
wet hair turbanned in a towel. Furnace- 
heated air gushed into the chilly hall. 
"I'm on the phone, darling. Long dis- 
tance." 

"Who?" he said. 

"My husband." 

Jackie nodded. "How is Vijay?" 

She made aface. "Divorced, for Pete's 
sake 1 Dalip is my husband now, Dalip 
Sabnis, remember? Honestly, Jackie, 
you're so absent-minded sometimes." 



"Sorry," Jackie said. "Give Dalip my 
best." He sat in a chair and leafed 
through one of Bubbles' Bombay fan 
mags while she cooed into the phone. 

Bubbles hung up, sighed. "I miss 
him so bad," she said. "What is it, 
okay?" 

"My oldest boy just told me that I am 
culturally inauthentic." 

She tossed the towel from her head, 
put her fists on her hips. "These young 
people today! What do they want from 
us?" 

"They want the real India," Jackie 
said. "But, we all watched Hollywood 
films for a hundred bloody 
years ... We have no native soul left, 
don't you know." He sighed heavily. 
"We're all bits and pieces inside. We're 
a jigsaw people, we Indians. Quotes 
and remakes. Rags and tatters." 

Bubbles tapped her ch:n with one lac- 
quered forefinger. "You're having trou- 
ble with the script." 

Mournfully, he ignored her. "Libera- 
tion came a hundred bloody years ago. 
But still we obsess with the damn Brit- 
ish. Look at this country of theirs. It's a 
museum. But us — we're worse. We're a 
wounded civilization. Naipaul was 
right. Rushdie was right!" 

"You work too hard," Bubbles said. 
"That historical we just did, about the 



Moon, yaar? That one was stupid cra- 
zy, darling. That music boy Smith, Irom 
Manchester? He don't even speak Eng- 
lish, okay. I can't understand a word he 
bloody says." 

"My dear, that's English. This is Eng- 
land. That is" how they speak their na- 
tive language." 

"My foot," Bubbles said. "We have 
five hundred million to speak English. 
How many left have they?" 

Jackie laughed. "They're getting bet- 
ter, yes. Learning to talk more proper- 
ly L like us." He yawned hugely. "It's 
bloody hot in here, Bubbles. Feels 
good. Just like home." 

"That young girl, Betty Chalmers, 
okay? When she tries to speak Hindi I 
bust from laughs." Bubbles paused. 
"She's a smart little cookie, though. She 
could go places in business. Did you 
sleep with her?" 

"Just once," Jackie said. "She was 
nice, But very English." 

"She's American," Bubbles said tri- 
umphantly. "A Cherokee Indian from Tul- 
sa Oklahoma, USA. When your advert 
said Indian blood, she thought you 
meant American Indians." 

"Damn!" Jackie said. "Really?" 

"Cross my heart it's true, Jackie." 

"Damn . . . And the camera loves 
her, too. Don't tell anybody." 

Bubbles shrugged, a little too casu- 
ally. "It's funny how much they want to 
be just like us." 

"Sad for them," Jackie said. "An ex- 
istential tragedy." 

"No, darling, I mean it's really funny, 
for an audjence at home. Laugh out 
loud, roll in the aisles, big knee-slapper! 
It could be a good movie, Jackie. 
About how funny the English are. Be- 
ing so inauthentic like us." 

"Bloody hell," Jackie marvelled. 

"A remake ol Param Dharam or Gam- 
mat Jammat, but funny, because of all 
English players, okay." 

"Gammat Jammat has some great 
dance scenes." 

She smiled. 

His head felt inflamed with sudden 
inspiration. "We can do that. Yes. We 
will! And it'll make a bloody fortune!" He 
clapped his hands together, bowed his 
head to her. "Miss Malini, you are a troup- 
er." She made a pleased salaam. "Sat- 
isfaction guaranteed, sahib." 

He rose from the chair. "I'll get on it 
straightaway." 

She slipped across the room to 
block his way. "No no no! Not tonight." 

"Why not?" 

"None of those little red pills of 
yours." 

He frowned. 
" "You'll pop from those someday, Jack- 
ieji. You jump -like a jack-in-box every 

62 OMNI 



time they snap the clapperboard. You 
think I don't know?" 

He flinched. "You don't know the 
troubles of this crew. We need a hit 
like hell, darling. Not today, yesterday." 

"Money troubles. So what? Not to- 
night, boss, not to worry. You're the on- 
ly director that knows my best angles. 
You think I want to be stuck with no di- 
rector in this bloody dump?" Gently, she 
took his hand. "Calming down, okay. 
Changing your mind, having some fun. 
This is your old pal Bubbles here, 
yaar? Look, Jackieji, Bubbles." She 
struck a hand-on-hip pose and shot him 
her best sidelong come-on look. 

Jackie was touched. He got into bed. 
She pinned him down, kissed him firm- 
ly, put both his hands on her breasts 
and pulled the cover over her shoul- 
ders. "Nice and easy, okay? A little pam- 
pering. Let me do it," 

She straddled his groin, settled 



iEvery half 
meter or so they came 

across a 
marker for the dead. 

Jackie 
thought the graveyard 

must stretch 
for almost a kilometer. 9 



down, undulated a bit in muscular danc- 
er's fashion, then stopped, and began 
to pinch and scratch his chest with ab- 
sent-minded Vedic skill. "You're so fun- 
ny sometimes, darling, 'Inauthentic' I 
can tap dance, I can bump and grind, 
and you think I can't wiggle my neck 
like a natyam dancer? Watch me do it, 
for Pete's sake." 

"Stop it," he begged. "Be funny be- 
fore, be funny afterward, but don't be 
funny in the middle." 

"Okay, nothing funny darling, short 
and sweet." She set to work on him and 
in two divine minutes she had wrung 
him out like a sponge. 

"There," she said. "All done. Feel bet- 
ter?" 

"God, yes." 

"Inauthentic as hell and it feels just 
as good, yaar?" 

"It's why the human race goes on." 

"Well then," she said. "That, and a 
good night's sleep, baby." 

Jackie was enjoying a solid if somewhat 
flavorless breakfast of kippers and 



eggs when Jimmie Suraj came in. "It's 
Smith, boss," Jimmie said. "We can't 
get him. to shut up that bloody box of 
his." 

Jackie sighed, finished his breakfast, 
dabbed bits of kipper from his lips, and 
walked into the lobby," Smith, Betty 
Chalmers, and Bobby Denzongpa sat 
around a low table in overstuffed 
chairs. There was a stranger with 
them. A young Japanese. 

"Turn it off, Smithie, there's a good 
fellow," Jackie said. "It sounds like 
bloody cats being skinned." 

"Just running a demo for Mr. Big Yen 
here," Smith muttered. With bad 
grace, he turned off his machine. This 
was an elaborate procedure, involving 
much flicking of switches, twisting of 
knobs, and whirring of disk drives. 

The Japanese — a long-haired, ele- 
gant youngster in a sheepskin coat, cor- 
duroy beret and jeans— rose from his 
chair, bowed crisply, and offered Jack- 
ie a business card. Jackie read it. The 
man was from a movie company — ki- 
nema Junpo. JHis name was Baisho. 

Jackie did a namaste. "A pleasure to 
meet you, Mr, Baisho." Baisho looked 
a bit wary. 

"Our boss says he's glad to meet 
you," Smith repeated. 
"Hai," Baisho said alertly. 
"We met Baisho-san at the disco 
last night," Betty Chalmers said. Bais- 
ho, sitting up straighter, emitted an en- 
thusiastic string of alien syllables. 

"Baisho says he's a big fan of Eng- 
lish dance-hall music," Smith mumbled. 
"He was looking for a proper dance 
hall here. What he thinks is one. Vesta 
Tilly, la-ra-ra-boom-de-ay, that sort of 
bloody thing." 

"Ah," Jackie said. "You speak any 
English, Mr. Baisho?" 

Baisho smiled politely and replied at 
length, with much waving of arms, "He's 
also hunting for first editions of Noel 
Coward and J. B. Priestley," Betty 
said. "They're his favorite English au- 
thors. And boss— Jackie — Mr. Baisho is 
speaking English. I mean, if you listen, 
all the vowels and consonants are in 
there. Really." 

"Rather better than your English, ac- 
tually," Smith muttered. 

"I have heard of Noel Coward," Jack- 
ie said. "Very witty playwright, that Cow- 
ard fellow." Baisho waited politely until 
Jackie's lips had stopped moving and 
then plunged back into his narrative. 

"He says that it's lucky he met us be- 
cause he's here on location himself," Bet- 
ty said. "Kinema Junpo — that's his 
boss — is shooting a remake of Throne 
of Blood in Scotland. He's been . . . 
uh . . . appointed to check out some 
special location here in Bolton." 



"Yes?" Jackie said. 

"Said the local English won't help him 
because they're kind of superstitious' 
about the place," Betty said. She 
smiled. "How 'bout you, Smithie? You're 
not superstitious, are you?" 

"Nan," Smith said. He lit a cigarette. 

"He wants us to help him?" Jackie 
said. 

Betty smiled. "They have truckloads 
of cash, the Japanese." 

"If you don't want to do it, I can get 
some "mates o' mine from Manchester," 
Smith said, picking at a blemish. 
"They're nae scared of bloody Bolton." 

"What is it about Bolton?" Jackie 
said. 

"You didn't know?" Betty said. 
"Well, not much. I mean, it's not much 
of a town, but it does have the biggest 
mass grave in England." 

"Over a million," Smith muttered. 
"From Manchester, London — they 
used to ship 'em out here in trains, dur- 
ing the plague." 

"Ah," Jackie said. 

"Over a million in one bloody spot," 
Smith said, stirring in his chair. He 
blew a curl of smoke. "Me grandfather 
used to talk about it. Real proud about 
Bolton they was, real civil government 
emergency and all, kept good order, sol- 
diers and such . . . Every dead bloke 
got his own marker, even the women 
and kids. Other places, later, they just 
scraped a hole with bulldozers and 
shoved 'em in." 

"Spirit," Baisho said loudly, enunci- 
ating as carefully as he could. "Good 
cinema spirit in city of Boruton." 

Despite himself, Jackie felt a chill. He 
sat down. "Inauspicious. That's what 
we'd call it." 

"It was fifty years ago," Smith said, 
bored. "Thirty years before I was born. 
Or Betty here either, eh? 'Bovine Spon- 
giform Encephalopathy.' Mad Cow Dis- 
ease. So what? B.S.E. will never come 
back. It was a fluke. A bloody twentieth- 
century industrial accident." 

"You know, I'm not frightened," Bet- 
ty said, with her brightest smile. "I've 
even eaten beef several times. There's 
no more virions in it. I mean, they 
wiped out scrapie years ago. Killed ev- 
ery sheep, every cow that might have 
any infection. It's perfectly safe to eat 
now, beef." 

"Vfe lost many people in Japan," Bais- 
ho offered slowly. "Tourists who eat- 
ed . . . ate . . . Engrish beef, here in Eu- 
rope. But trade friction protect most of 
us. Old trade barriers. The farmers of 
Japan." He smiled. 

Smith ground out his cigarette. "An- 
other fluke. You're old granddad was 
just-lucky, Baisho-san." 

"Lucky?" Bobby Denzongpa said sud- 



denly. His dark gazelle-like eyes were 
red-rimmed with hangover. "Yaar, they 
fed sheeps to the cows here! God did 
not make cows for eating of sheeps! 
And the flesh of Mother Cow is not for 
us to eat. . . ." 

"Bobby," Jackie warned. 

Bobby shrugged irritably. "It's the 
truth, boss, yaar? They . made foul 
sheep, slaughterhouse offal into protein 
for cattle feed, and they fed that bloody 
trash to their own English cows. For 
years they did this wicked thing, even 
when the cows were going mad and dy- 
ing in front of them! They knew it was 
risky, but they went straightaway on do- 
ing it simply because it was cheaper! 
That was a crime agains't nature. It was 
properly punished." 



"That is enough," Jackie said cold- 
ly. "We are guests in this country. We 
of India also lost many fellow country- 
men to that tragedy, don't you know," 

"Moslems, good riddance," Bobby 
muttered under his breath, and got up 
and staggered- off. 

Jackie glowered at him as he left, for 
the sake of the others. 

"It's okay," Smith said in the uneasy 
silence. "He's a bloody Asian racist, 
your filmstar walla there, but we're 
used to that here." He shrugged. "It's 
just— the plague, you know, it's all they 
talk about in school, like England was 
really high-class back then and we're- 
nothing at all now, just a shadow or 
something. . . . You get bloody tired of 
hearing that. I mean, it was all fifty 



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bloody year:; ago.'' He sneered. "I'm not 
the shadow of the Beatles or the fuck- 
ing Sex Pistols. I'm a working, profes- 
sional, modern, British musician, and 
got my union papers to prove it." 

"No, you're really good, Smithie," Bet- 
ty told him.- She had gone pale. "I 
mean, England's coming back strong 
now. Really." 

"Look, we're not 'coming back,' 
lass," Smith insisted. "We're already 
here right now, earning .our bloody liv- 
ing. It's life, eh? Life goes fucking on." 
Smith stood up, picked up his deck, 
scratched at his shaggy head. "I gotta 
work. Jackie. Boss, eh? Can you spare 
five pound, man? I gotta make some 
phone calls." 

Jackie searched in his wallet and hand- 
ed over a bill in the local currency. 

Baisho had five Japanese in his crew, 
Even with the heip of Jackie's crew, it 
took them most of the evening to 
scythe back the thick brown weeds in 
the old Bolton plagueyard. Every half me- 
ter or so they came across a marker for 
the dead. Small square granite posts 
had been hammered into the ground, 
fifty years ago, then sheared off clean 
with some kind of metal saw. Fading 
names and dates and computer ID num- 
bers had been chiselled into the tops 
of the posts. 

Jackie thought that the graveyard 
must stretch around for about a kilome- 
ter. The rolling English earth was stud- 
ded with plump, thick-rooted oaks and 
ashes, with that strange naked look of 
European trees in winter. 

There was nothing much to the 
place-. It was utterly prosaic, like a bad- 
ly kept city park in some third-class 
town. It defied the tragic imagination. 
Jackie had been a child when the scra- 
pie plague had hit, but he could re- 
member sitting in hot Bombay dark- 
ness, staring nonplussed at the anxious 
shouting newsreels, vague images, 
shot in color no doubt, but grainy 
black and white in the eye of his mem- 
ory. Packed cots in European medical 
camps, uniformed shuffling white peo- 
ple gone all gaunt and trembling, spoon- 
ing up charity gruel with numb, 
gnarled hands. The scrapie plague had 
a devilishly slow incubation in humans, 
but no human being had ever survived 
the full onset. 

First came the slow grinding head- 
aches and the unending sense of fa- 
tigue. Then the tripping and flopping 
and stumbling as the nerves of the vic- 
tim's legs gave out. As the lesions 
spread, and tunneled deep within the 
brain, the muscles went slack and flab- 
by, and a lethal psychotic apathy set 
in. In those old cinema newsreels, West- 



ern civilization gazed at the Indian 
lens in demented puzzlement as mil- 
lions refused to realize. that they were 
dying simply because they had eaten 
a cow. 

What were they called? thought Jack- 
ie. Beefburgers? Hamburgers. Ninety 
percent of Britain, thirty percent of West- 
ern Europe, twenty percent of jet-set- 
ting America, horribly dead. Because of 
hamburgers. 

Baisho's set-design crew was work- 
ing hard to invest the dreary place with 
proper atmosphere. They were spray- 
ing long white webs of some kind of 
thready aerosol across the cropped 
grass and setting up gel-filtered lights. 
It was to be a night shoot. Macbeth and 
Macduff would arrive soon on the ex- 
press train. 

Betty sought him out. "Baisho-san 
wants to know what you think," 

"My professional opinion of his set, 



^Jackie had 
been a child when the 

scrapie plague 
had hit, but he could 

remember 
staring nonplussed at 

the anxious 
shouting newsreels. 9 



as a veteran Indian filmmaker?" Jackie 
said. 

''Right, boss." 

Jackie did not much care for giving 
out his trade secrets but. could not re- 
sist the urge to cap the Japanese. "A 
wind machine," he pronounced brisk- 
ly. "This place needs a wind machine. 
Have him leave some of the taller 
weeds, and set up under a tree. We've 
fifty kilos of glitter dust back in Bolton. 
It's his, if he wants to pay. Sift that 
dust, hand by hand, through the back 
of the wind machine and you'll get a 
fine effect. It's more spooky than hell." 

Betty offered L h s advice. Baisho nod- 
ded, thought the idea over, then 
reached for a small machine on his 
belt. He opened it and began to press 
tiny buttons. 

Jackie walked closer. "What's that 
then? A telephone?" 

"Yes." Betty said. "He needs to 
clear the plan with headquarters." 

"No phone cables out here," Jackie 
said. 

"High tech," Betty said, "They have 



o -cT.ellite link." 

"Bloody hell," Jackie said. "And 
here I am offering technical aid. To the 
bloody Japanese, eh," 

Betty looked at him for a long mo- 
ment. "You've got Japan outnumbered 
eight to one. You shouldn't worry 
about Japan." 

"Oh. I don't worry," Jackie said. "I'm 
a tolerant fellow, dear. A very secular 
fellow. But I'm thinking, what my studio 
will say, when they hear we break 
bread here with the nation's competit- 
ion. It might not look so good in the Bom- 
bay gossip rags." 

Betty stood quietly. The sun was set- 
ting behind a bank of cloud. "You're the 
kings of the world, you Asians," she 
said at last. "You're rich, you have all 
the power, you have all the money. We 
need you to help us, Jackie. We don't 
want you to fight each other." 

"Politics," Jackie mumbled, sur- 
prised. "It's . . . it's just life." He 
paused. "Betty, listen to old Jackie. 
They don't like actresses with politics in 
Bombay It's not like Tulsa'Oklahoma. 
You have to be discreet." 

She watched him slowly, her eyes 
wide. "You never said you'd take me to 
Bombay, Jackie." 

"It could happen," Jackie muttered. 

"I'd like to go there," she said, "It's 
the center of the world." She gripped 
her arms and shivered. "It's getting 
cold, 1 need my sweater." 

The actors had arrived, in a motor- 
driven tricycle cab. The Japanese be- 
gan dressing them in stage armor. 
Macduff began practicing kendo 
moves. 

Jackie walked to join Mr. Baisho. 
"May I call on your phone, please?" 

"I'm sorry?" Baisho said. 

Jackie mimed the action. "Bombay," 
he said. He wrote the number on a 
page in his notebook, handed it over. 

"Ah," Baisho said, nodding. "Wakari- 
mashita." He dialed a number, spoke 
briefly in Japanese,., waited, handed 
Jackie the phone. 

There was a rapid flurry of digital 
bleeping. Jackie, switching to Hindi, 
fought his way through a screen of sec- 
retaries. "Goldie," he said at last. 

"Jackieji. I've been asking for you." 

"Yes, I heard." Jackie paused. 
"Have you seen the films?" 

Goldie Vachchani grunted, with a 
sharp digital echo. "The first two. Get- 
ting your footing over in Blighty, yaar? 
Nothing so special." 

"Yes?" Jackie said. 

"The third one. The one with the half- 
breed girl and the Moon and the sound- 
track." 

"Yes, Goldie." 

Goldi.e's voice was slow and gloat- 

CONTINUEDONPAGE92 



Imagine ihal a Fifties beat club went electronic, and you 
have some idea of a Telepoetics night at the Electronic Ca- 
fe International in beachside Santa Monica. Los Angeles. As 
I sipped my wine, the candles on the table seemed to flick- 
er in time to the hard-edged rap poetry emanating from the 
speakers, while on a giant video screen at the far end of the 
room, I watched an image of the poet who at that moment 
was performing live at a club in Phoenix, Arizona. After the 
remote bard had finished, it was L.A.'s turn, and our Tele- 
poatic hostess, Marilene M. Murphy, took the floor to in- 
troduce the next performer, a princely looking African Amer- 
ican with a voice that sounded like rubble and silk. This 
time we'd be seeing the action live, and Phoenix would be 
receiving it electronically. 

Telepoetics is one of a whole series of artistic and cultur- 
al events that take place regularly through the Electronic Ca- 
fe International (EC!). I say through, rather than at, since all 
these events involve the participation of a number of differ- 
ent locations, often stretched across the globe. At any giv- 
en event, the Caf6 in Santa Monica may be communicating 





ARTICLE BY MARGARET WERTHEIM 



ectron 




PHOTOGRAPHS BY DANIEL FISHMAN 



Special events at 
the Electronic 
Cafe: Celebrating 
Mexico's Day 
of the Dead festival 
which honors 
ancestors (top), and 
the annual New 
Year's Eve party 
(left) that collects 
electronic celebrants 



as it goes. The 
Cafe celebrates the 
New Year time 
zone by time zone — 
starting in Aus- 
tralia and ending 
up 18 hours 
later in Los Angeles. 



with other cities across America and Canada, or some 
place in Russia, Japan, Europe, South America, or Africa. 
Here, you can not only mingle with fellow Los Angelinas, but 
through the power of technology, also with people all over 
the world. At ECI, the local community is global. 

ECI is an innovative concept that offers sophisticated 
telecommunications facilities in a relaxed cafe environment, 
complete with coffee, cakes, wine, and quirky decor. One 
night that I visited was Valentine's Day, and all the. tables 
were adorned with chubby golden Cupids. As you walk in 
the door, it's the cafe you encounter first; then your eyes are 
drawn to the racks of equipment and video screens at the 
far end of the room. Contrary to its name, in the flesh, the 
cafe comes before the electronics. But it is the fusion of 
both that makes this place so unique, Indeed, Electronic Ca- 
fe International is more than just a name; it's a whole con- 
cept — one that is now a registered trademark, 

ECI is the brainchild of Sherrie Rabinowitz and Kit Gal- 
loway, two American artists who originally met in that mec- 
ca of the cafe — Paris. The idea, says Galloway, who is a man 



with a mission, is "to take telecommunications technology 
out of the corporate and business context and put it into a 
cultural context." They wanted to create a place where peo- 
ple could access the technology themselves, for they be- 
lieve that if communications facilities are widely available, 
then "whole new ways of being in the world can be creat- 
ed." The couple, who are both in. their early forties, have 
been working with communications technology since the mid 
Seventies. They are using Nineties technology to actively re- 
alize 'their visions — a kind of twenty-first-century techno- 
idealism, an idealism for the Digital Age. 

The Cafe in Santa Monica utilizes a range of different tech- 
nologies, some permanently installed and others which are 
brought in for special events. Probably the most commonly 
used devices are the video phones, which transmit still pic- 
tures along with voice. It was via video phones that I could 
see the poets performing in Phoenix during the Telepoetics 
evening, and it is generally video phones that provide the 
links between the Cafe and other cities around the world. 
The received images are projected onto a large video 




From the begin- 
ning, Galloway (left) 
and Rabinowitz 
(next page, lower 
left) have ex- 
plored ways of using 
communications 
technology to bene- 
fit all people- 
not just those with 
fists full of 



dollars. They are 
using Nineties 
technology to realize 

visions- 
kind of 21st-century 
techno-idealism, 
an idealism for the 
Digital Age. 



«_>^t the Cafe, the loeal community is global. 



screen so that everyone can see who's talking at the other 
end. The permanent equipment includes electronic mail and 
computers for creating and exchanging graphics. For spe- 
cial events, they've brought in electronic music equipment, 
virtual-reality systems, and brain-wave scanners, which, at 
a recent event, were used to drive synthesizers in Los Ange- 
les and Germany, creating what Galloway and Rabinowitz 
call "collaborative brain-wave music." 

As a concept, ECI is proving .enormously catchy, and 
there is now a global network of 50 affiliated locations around 
the world. Some are permanent, but many just come online 
for special events. True to the communal spirit of the endeav- 
' or, many are located in real cafes or community centers. The 
one in Phoenix operates out of an alternative art space and 
bookstore, while one in Managua, Nicaragua, operates out 
of Pepito's, a caf6 cum art gallery cum children's center. The 
network is growing all the time, and Rabinowitz and Galloway 
are constantly being asked to advise on setting up new 
nodes both here in the United States and overseas. 




Next year, new locations 
will be opening atTelluride in 
Colorado, in Japan, and in 
Bulgaria. One recent addi- 
tion to the network is a sophis- 
ticated venue with state-of- 
the-art technology that 
opened in May 1991 at the 
world's largest science and 
industry museum, La Cite, in 
Paris. This venue is rather 
like a "communications lab- 
oratory," and it maintains 
links with several European 
universities. Because it can make use of ISDN phone lines — 
a new superpowerful telephone technology more widely avail- 
able in Europe than in the United States — its video phones 
work with full-color, full-motion images. {This became avail- 
able in Santa Monica in late 1992,) 

But Rabinowitz and Galloway — now husband and wife — 
are well aware that not everyone can afford state-of-the-art 
"wet dream" technology, and they have been careful to de- 
es OMNI 




sign the facilities so that the network can also include very- 
low-budget nodes as well. This is particularly important, Rabino- 
witz says, for communicating with Third World countries. "It 
wouldn't be very interesting if it were just for the rich coun- 
tries like the United States, Japan, and Germany," says Rab- 
inowitz, with her gently compelling intensity. "The high-end 
ones musi be able to talk to the low-end ones." So La Cits 
must be able to talk to the simpler facilities and vice versa, 
Putting this philosophy into practice, Rabinowitz and Gal- 
loway have organized events with Nicaragua, South Africa, 
and what were then East Bloc countries, including Russia and 
Bulgaria. In the case of South Africa, they had to arrange to 
gel the video phone to the people in Grahamstown, During 
that link up, visitors to the Cafe in Santa Monica got to talk 
to South Africans about life in their strife-ridden country. And 
South Africans had the opportunity to talk to African Ameri- 
cans about the experience of being Black in the United 
States. Because video phones transmit pictures as well as 
words, each side got to see who they were talking to, thus 
providing a powerful person- 
al link. Such events are a won- 
derful demonstration of how 
technology can be used to 
bring together people from 
very different cultural environ- 
ments and backgrounds. 

In an early attempt to put 
this idea into practice, the 
couple staged an event as 
part of fhe activities surround- 
ing the 1984 Olympics In Los 
Angeles. They hooked up a 
system for seven weeks 
which connected together 
different ethnic communities 
in the City of Angels. Oper- 
ating over the phone lines, it 
was an immense success, 
and they realized that they 
needed a permanen! base 
to serve as a communica- 
tions hub. So they set up the 
Cafe in Santa Monica. 

As well as providing a fa- 
cility to enhance global inter- 
action, Rabinowitz and Gal- 
loway also wanted to provide 
a means so that artists 
around the world could col- 
laborate on artwork using 
electronic media. Indeed, it 
was through their own art — 
both were originally video art- 
ists—that each was drawn to 
the technology. Over the 
past decade, they've pursued their artistic goals in several 
prestigious arenas. In July, they set up a temporary ECI facil- 
ity at SIGGRAPH, the world's premier computer-graphics con- 
ference, which in 1992 was held in Chicago. Another was 
set up at Documenta 9, an important art festival held in 
Kasel in Germany. They organized a series of events which 
linked artists at these locations with each other, and also 
with artists at Santa Monica and La Cite. Together the art- 




The Cafe's network 
makes if possible 
lo have global round 
tables where 
artists, technologists, 
and philoso- 
phers from around 
the world can 
participate in discus- 
sions on rele- 
vant issues such as 
the use of 
virtual space, co- 
ownership of 
collaborative elec- 
tronic artwork, 
and virtual reality. 



ists explored collaborative image cre- 
ation and collaborative music, and 
held international forums to discuss "art 
in the age of technology." 

Collaborative image creation is a proc- 
ess by which artists in many locations 
work together to create images on com- 
puters. But the interesting thing is that 
at any time, everyone is working on the 
same image. All the locations involved 
were connected together via ISDN 
phone lines, which will one day be the 
standard. Whatever someone in, say, 
Germany did to the picture was imme- 
diately seen by everyone else, and 
they could then respond with their own 
contributions to the evolving image. 
This technology sets up what Rabino- 
witz calls "a visual dialogue among art- 
ists" — a dialogue that transcends lan- 
guage barriers. The images created are 
now part of the ECI archives and can 
be accessed by anyone in the network. 

As well as giving artists the chance 
to collaborate on works, the ECI net- 
work also makes it possible to have 
"global round tables" where artists, tech- 
nologists, and philosophers from 
around the world can participate in dis- 
cussions on relevant issues. During 
SIGGRAPH. they organized a series of 
international round tables on topics 
such as the use of virtual space, co- 



ownership of collaborative electronic art- 
work, and virtual reality. The point, 
says Galloway, is to bring the creative 
community together "to "solve the aes- 
thetic problems of the new technology." 

Other ECI events have involved col- 
laborations on performance-art pieces. 
In one event, dancers were located in 
several different locations and video- 
taped while they danced. The video im- 
ages were then composited so that the 
performers appeared to be dancing to- 
gether onscreen. Rabinowitz points out 
that with such multilocation performanc- 
es, the whole piece only comes togeth- 
er in "virtual space." It's never realized 
in actual physical space. The "stage" is 
the ethereal realm oi bits and bytes. Ex- 
ploring the possibilities of "virtual 
space" is one of the pair's primary aims. 
Indeed, ECI, Santa Monica, now serves 
as the headquarters for the Los Angeles 
Special Interest Group for Virtual Reality. 

In pursuit of their artistic goals, Rab- 
inowitz and Galloway have also estab- 
lished an ongoing relationship with the 
Center for Experiment in Art, Informa- 
tion and Technology at the California In- 
stitute of the Arts (Cal Arts), with whom 
they do joint projects. One in Novem- 
ber linked musicians in Los Angeles 
with others at the Centre International 
de Recherche Musicale in Nice, 




France. Using music software, each 
side was able to control the other 
side's synthesizers, so they were able 
to have international electronic jam ses- 
sions between stellar "lineups at each 
end. Rabinowitz and Galloway will also 
continue collaborative artistic activities 
in the international arena through the 
use of the mobile ECI facility which was 
set up for Documenta 9. Now that that 
event is over, the equipment, which is 
housed in a shipping container, will trav- 
el around Europe to other arts festivals. 
Forthcoming events to which it is going 
include the Venice Bienale. 

True to their egalitarian philosophy, 
the couple is concerned to make their 
facilities available to as wide a range 
of people as possible. Rabinowitz spar- 
kles with pride as she tells of one event 
in which they assisted a group of devel- 
opmental^ challenged people. This 
group came to the Caf6 in Santa Moni- 
ca and used its facilities to talk to a sim- 
ilar group from the Little City Foundation 
in Chicago. "They really got it," she 
says. "They ran the system and used 
the video phones." Galloway adds that 
"usually these people are kept in their 
own constituency groups." Getting all 
sorts of people together and giving 
them access to the technology in a 
nonintimidating environment is what ECI 
is about. Says Rabinowitz, "We want all 
people to be able to come here and 
imagine what is possible, and what 
they can do together." 

From humble beginnings, the ECI net- 
work is reaching out tentacles into ev- 
er more arenas. There is now a video- 
phone link with Biosphere II in the Ari- 
zona desert, and during some events, 
visitors to the Santa Monica Cafe can 
talk to the Biosphereans about life in 
their sealed bubble. Because of their ear- 
ly experiment during the 1984 L.A. Olym- 
pics, Rabinowitz and Galloway have al- 
so been invited to set up an ECI facility 
in Atlanta, Georgia, during the 1996 
Olympic games. In the international are- 
na, they're talking to an Ethiopian uni- 
versity about setting up an ECI facility 
which they hope will become one of 
many permanent bases in Africa, and 
plans are underway for one at a new 
arts center outside Beijing. Talks are al- 
so being held to set up one in Prague 
in the spring of 1993 during the city's 
"Let the Sun Shine" cultural festival. 

At a time when the international 
scene is changing dramatically and 
when traditional barriers between na- 
tions are crumbling, telecommunica- 
tions can surely play a role in helping 
us establish a harmonious new order. 
Electronic Cafe International is a won- 
derful tool we can call on in this diffi- 
cult task ahead. DO 



GAfines 



hourglass begins to float upright, and 
then it rises. 

(An antihourglass, mentioned 
October's column, has enough sand to 
just barely sink. When inverted, this 
glass remains wedged in at the top of 
the tube until the hourglass becomes 
bottom-heavy and sinks.) 

That's all there is to it. Congratulations 
to the 415 readers who got it. Five, 
selected randomly, will receive 
one-year subscriptions to Omni: John 
Burke of Darien, Illinois; Bill Cembor of 
Atlanta, Georgia; Stephen Godby of 
Centreville, Virginia; Chris Mills of 
Guelph, Ontario, Canada; and Jim 
Stewart of Sail Lake City, Utah. 

I promised copies of the book Omni 
Games to the five "most interesting" 
entries. Correct answers to this puzzle 
aren't very interesting because they're 
all virtually alike. Therefore, I awarded 
books for incorrect answers only: 

1. Pete Roche of Chicago foresaw 
this and sent both a correct theory and 
this incorrect alternate: "The hourglass 
has a small clasping mechanism at 
each end. The momentum of rising pro- 
vides enough energy to engage the mech- 
anism as it reaches the top of the cylin- 
der, while the weight of fhe falling sand is 
required to release the mechanism." 

2. John J. Gagne of Eglin Air Force 
Base, Florida, supposed that sand 
blocked the hole, and air in the bottom 
of the hourglass became compressed 
until "a jet of air shoots into the top half 
of the hourglass, imparting just enough 
■lift to overcome inertia and start the 
glass moving up." 

3. "The hourglass is composed of a 
flexible material such as Nalgene," 
wrote Timothy R. Dinger, Ph.D., and 
Daniel E. Edelstein, Ph.D. The two 
share a prize for having the confidence 
to submit their incorrect theory on 
company stationery: IBM's Thomas J. 
Watson Research Center in Yorktown 
Heights, New York. 

4. Cliff Oberg of Clarkdale, Arizona, 
theorized that the tube's caps are 
hollow and that the fluid must flow from 
the tube through a hole into the cap 
below before the glass can rise. 

5. Finally, a theory about the density 
gradient of the liquid was signed "Bob 
Saville, Physics Teacher, Shoreham- 
Wading River High School, Shoreham, j 
New York." He added, "RS. If this is 
wrong, then my name is John Holzapfel 
and I teach chemistry." The fifth book, 
therefore, goes to Holzapfel. DO 



Back By 
Popular Demand. 

At one time, peregrine falcons nested by the thousands throughout 
the United States. But with the widespread use of the insecticide 
DDT in the 1940s and 1950s, die species suffered greatly In the 
eastern U.S., the peregrine falcon disappeared entirely 

Now peregrine falcons have made a comeback, thanks to efforts 
by conservationists. 

Since 1975 when recovery programs were established, 752 
peregrines have been released in the eastern U.S., and there has been 
a steady increase in the nesting population. 

With wise conservation policies, other once rare species such as 
the American alligator and the bald eagle have also made comebacks. 

Help save our endangered species. Join fhe National 
Wildlife Federation, 

1412 16th Street NW Working faf the Watum of Tomorrow,, 

Washington, DC NATIONAL WILDLIFE FEDERATION 



20036-2266. 




irUTERVIElAJ 



Striding to his Caltech of- 
fice, John Joseph Hop- 
field spies the silvery trail of a 
snail lhat had been scouting for 
food at dawn. The telltale strip 
goes in a straight line, a circle, 
and then a straight line again. 
That, says neural-network theo- 
rist Hopfield, means "the wind 
changed while the snail was fol- 
lowing the scent." He ought to 
return again before daybreak, 
he muses, with video camera 
and spotlight to track the 
snail's movements and correlate 
them with shifts in the wind. 

Strange activities for a com- 
puter theorist, perhaps, but 
Hopfield has little respect for 
boundaries. Snails are central to 
his latest project: working out 
the math of a system that will 
smell the location of an object — 
as does a snail heading for 
breakfast. It's all part of 
Hopfield's neural networking, an 
approach to computer architec- 
ture whose goal is a machine 
that may even imitate human 
consciousness. 

Conventional computers are 
superhuman only in the speed 
they apply to tedious, brick-by- 
brick logic, sorting mountains of 
spoon-fed data. Hopfield's sys- 
tems learn and judge for them- 
selves, and he's confident 
they'll eventually simulate emo- 
tions and creativity. If comput- 
ers someday paint, compose mu- 
sic, write, novels, and run gov- 
ernments, Hopfield will have to 
take some of the blame. 

The son of a Polish physicist, 
Hopfield inherited his father's 
can-do philosophy that every- 
thing in life — from smelling ros- 
es to the workings of the mind — 
can be fathomed with math and 
logic. So when artificial intelli- 
gence (Al) in digital computers 
reached a roadblock in the late 
Seventies as it bumped against 
the limits inherent in its design, 
Hopfield opened a new way. He 
worked out a math model of 
associative memory in large net- 
works that functioned in a way 
equivalent to neurons in real 
brains. Efforts to engineer neu- 
ral nets into silicon circuitry be- 
gan at Caltech, Bell Labs, and 





With an array of electronic sensors 
that measure the physical 
things being done to them, you 
have the means whereby 
consciousness could be an issue. 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAN WINTERS 




A COMPUTER COULD 
BECOME TRULY SELF-REFEREN- 
TIAL; IT WOULD HAVE 
A WAY TO MEASURE ITS 
OWN HEARTBEAT. 



MOTTO: 

"Let me define ii operationally." 

YES, BUT CAN THEY 
OUT-CURSE A PARAKEET? 

Neural nets can now 

play backgammon, recognize faces 

from parts of photos, 

identify airplanes on radar, learn 

languages, score credit 
for loans and mortgages, analyze 

fingerprints, read data- 
bases, calculate aerodynamic flow, 

schedule airline flights, 
test Pap smears, detect abnormal 

heartbeats, predict 
stock indexes, diagnose symptoms 

and prescribe medication, 
aim missiles, read handwritten zip 

codes, talk from written 
texts, play Ping-Pong, and read 

lips. Soon systems 
will check the faces of individuals 

going into secure 

■ buildings, enable industrial 

robots to pick 

among parts to fashion a product, 

someday imitate 
consciousness or be conscious. 



elsewhere. By 1988, even the 
grand guru of Al, Marvin Minsky of 
MIT, at first skeptical, predicted 
that -"neural technology is the way 
of the future." A defense official 
said 'neural-modeling technology 
would be "more important than the 
atom bomb," 

Hopfield's systems compute by 
association, detect patterns, and 
form judgments. Like the human 
brain, they learn, generalizing 
from examples. Unlike strictly logic- 
based Al, they handle the random 
perceptions of the everyday 
world — recognizing faces and ob- 
jects and understanding human 
speech. Like humans, they have 
hunches and intuitions. A conven- 
tional computer will struggle to 
make sense out of bat, ball, and dia- 
mond. A neural network will catch 
the ball in its glove. 

No wild-eyed visionary, .but a so- 
ber mathematician, Hopfield none- 
theless predicts that we will have 



computers that will either imitate 
consciousness or be conscious — 

depending on your definition of 
that concept. So far, nearly all of 
these systems are software run on 
conventional computers that only 
simulate in slow motion the per- 
formances of neural-net hardware. 
Several companies, however, have 
made prototype neural chips. 

Sample neural cubes decorate 
Hopfield's desk: jewel-like squares 
the size of a quarter, gold wiring 
glinting against blue borders. Like 
the brain's neurons and synapses, 
neural chips respond and send sig- 
nals according to the strength and 
frequency of the signals passing 
through them rather than simply 
switching on or off in digital fash- 
ion. Actual neural nets built so far 
are much less powerful than a cock- 
roach's brain. Yet when neural 
chips are mass produced and hard- 
ware built, they should compute mil- 
lions of times faster than conven- 



tional machines. 

Hopfield is a tall, lanky figure who 
spews ideas with great precision 
and vitality. As interviewer Anthony 
Liversidge crossed the door of his of- 
fice, Hopfield sprang up from a 
knee chair at his computer, shook 
hands vigorously, and gave his full 
attention. Hopfield has no financial 
participation in the infant university- 
military-industrial neural-net complex 
his ideas have spawned. He has, 
however, won his share of prizes, 
from a MacArthur Foundation grant 
in 1983 to the Wright prize Harvey 
Mudd College awarded him, he 
jokes, for "being a dilettante." 

Omni: How do snails in real life com- 
pare to your computer models? 
Hopfield: My mathematical slugs are 
simple neural networks that corre- 
spond with the real slug's anatomy. 
They can easily produce the same- 
kinds of learning behavior as snails, 
My colleagues at Bell Labs have stud- 



AfUTIfMATTER 



UFO UPDATE 



ALIEN BODY COVER 



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WALKING 

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 38 

position waddles Irom side to side and 
tends to Ijrcb forward to where gravity 
tugs at its midiine. Dart's humanapes, 
at first glance, probably looked and act- 
ed very much like an odd strain of chim- 
panzee or gorilla, but deep inside, be- 
neath the flesh of outward appearance, 
they held the secret formula, it seems, 
to the pathway of human development. 
He dubbed this 2- to 3-million-year-old 
ancestral contender Australopithecus af- 
ricanus, and the rest is, shall we say, 
prehistory? 

Not only did Dart's and subsequent 
discoveries reveal that the human spe- 
cies was far older than had previously 
been considered, it also implied that 
long before big brains and superior in- 
telligence acquired the reins of our plan- 
etary destiny, early human prototypes 
were walking, for whatever reasons, 
much the same way we walk today in 
all our highbrowed splendor. Bipedal 
walking has been with us, has charac- 
terized our kind since the proposed ev- 
olutionary beginning, since those fate- 
ful moments when we climbed down 
from the trees and took to striding free- 
ly along the broad, sun-drenched sa- 
vannas of the African frontier. 

Consider the relative ease with 
which we acquire the ability to walk. It's 
like learning to speak — a function clear- 
ly associated with the superior intellec- 
tual capacity of the human brain. Like 
speaking, walking is a learned behavior 
that involves the mastering of a stand- 
ard complex of built-in response mecha- 
nisms, in this case stemming from the 
motor and sensory regions of the cere- 
bral cortex. The capacity for walking, 
like that of language acquisition, is no 
accident. It is the result of perhaps mil- 
lions of years of biological adaptation 
and genetic selection. The capacity, in 
other words, is specified in the very de- 
sign of the human structure. The indi- 
vidual's job, usually in the toddler 
stage, is to figure out how to use it, gen- 
erally through the process of trial and 
error like we do everything else. By the 
time we reach adulthood, walking has 
become such an intrinsic part of our eve- 
ryday routine that, like breathing (and 
to a certain extent, speaking), we tend 
to take it completely for granted. The 
way we walk becomes as much a part 
of our individual identity as the timbre 
of our voices— distinct, perceptual re- 
flections of who we are and how we hap- 
pen to be feeling at any given moment. 

The question of what came first in hu- 
man origins remains a sizzling topic of 
controversy in the forefront of anthropo- 



logical research. The implications 
range from dental gaps to gender 
gaps and seem constantly to fluctuate 
between the swirling folds of our own 
generation gaps. We will never know 
the exact sequence of events which led 
to our formation. If we did— if we had, 
for instance, all the facts right before 
our noses— we would probably fail to 
agree on their precise arrangement. 

We can, however, agree on certain 
highly consistent physical markers 
such as the architecture of bipedalism 
and the measure of brain growth, and 
we can place them in a rough chronol- 
ogy based on solid evidence and high- 
tech verification methods. In this con- 
text, we can safely determine that al- 
though it may not be the single evolu- 
tionary keyXo a human-from-apelike di- 
vergence, habitual bipedal walkability 
is certainly one of the most crucial notch- 
es in the doorjamb and became so 
long before consciousness could ac- 
count for it. 

Today we live in the aura of our in- 
tellectual achievement. We drive in au- 
tomobiles; fly in airplanes; create arbi- 
trary worlds in pictures, sounds, and 
words, and even computer programs. 
We design great cities and live in com- 
plex dwellings replete with electricity, 
plumbing, heat, and refrigeration, and 
yet we who walk bipedally do so in 
ways and amounts that elude our con- 
scious perception. We are in constant 
motion; perpetual two-legged verbs en- 
gaged in the occupation of carrying out 
the sentences of our experience across 
the landscape of evolution. 

And while we drive our automobiles, 
peck at the keys of fantastic comput- 
ers, and design great buildings to 
house our intellectual geniuses, we nev- 
er stray too far from the context of 
those two unparalleled columns of hu- 
man eccentricity. We are all — brilliant, 
mundane, healthy, or ill — inextricably 
linked forever by the footfalls of our own 
primordial design. DO 

"After all we could get on very happily 
if aviation, wireless, television and the 
like advanced no further than at pres- 
ent. . . . The sum of human happiness 
would not necessarily be reduced if for 
ten years every physical and chemical 
laboratory were closed and the patient 
and resourceful energy displayed in 
them transferred to the lost art of get- 
ting on together and finding the formu- 
la for making both ends meet in the 
scale of human life. Much, of course, 
we should lose by this universal scientif- 
ic holiday . . . but human happiness 
would not necessarily suffer. " 

—Edward Arthur Burroughs 
Sermon at Leeds, September 4, 1927 



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ied real slugs and found oscillations in 
activity in the brain area that processes 
olfactory signals. We're hoping this os- 
cillation corresponds to those we see 
in mammalian systems. Every time you 
take a sniff, the olfactory bulb, the first 
stage of olfactory processing, bursts in- 
to a kind of oscillation, a rapid excita- 
tory and inhibitory activity of groups of 
neurons. Those oscillations are part of 
the computation. Other parts of the 
brain oscillate, too. 

Omni: How does oscillation process in- 
formation or yield answers? 
Hopfield: Or code information in some 
fashion? For example, if different parts 
of the brain oscillate at the same fre- 
quency but in different phase, informa- 
tion is contained in that difference. May- 
be the oscillation is a carrier, a way of 
several pieces of information on one 
communication pathway. Perhaps this 
oscillation is used to mark information 
so that two things in different places in 
the brain are oscillating in the same way 
because they represent different parts 
of the same object. We've used oscil- 
lations as a way of amplifying and se- 
lecting information. 

Omni: Would oscillation work to com- 
pare samples at different times? 
Hopfieid: Possibly. The sensor might 
want to take samples at different times 
because the smells in a room fluctuate. 
Otherwise, it would get an average 
smell that wouldn't tell you much about 
what was in the room. Or it might be use- 
ful as an amplifier of signals. The oscil- 
lation in the olfactory bulb of mammals, 
in the level of electrical signals in the 
neurons,- goes on every time you sniff, 
breaking into about 40 cycles per sec- 
ond, 40 hiertz. There is also the oscilla- 
tion of breathing itself — say, 1 hertz. The 
slug oscillates about once a second, 
and it isn't clear if this is used like the 
mammal breathing cycle to make in- 
dependent samples of the air. 

It would be astonishing if oscillation 
were a mere epiphenomenon, but 
there's not yet a definitive statement 
about what it does in processing. One 
paper argues it is the beginning, the es- 
sence of consciousness. Oscillation rep- 
resents richer dynamics, and computa- 
tion is dynamics. Dynamics, the 
change of activity with time, is better 
than true-false logic for describing neu- 
ral computation. Harnessing oscillation 
is an important challenge. 
Omni: But will you be able to build a 
system thai smells? 
Hopfield: Oh yes, even a system to 
pull apart mixed smells just as animals 
88 OMNI 



can. Others have used neural nets to 
identify a smell in isolation but never in 
a mixed environment. Their simple ol- 
faction model has one test: It presents 
one single odor to see if an animal can 
decide if it's good or bad by moving to- 
ward or away from it. But in the natural 
world, odors are usually mixed up. I'm 
working out how the system deals with 
that complexity. 

Previously we thought that a single 
odor is the same problem as taste, a 
proximal sense. You decide what's in 
your mouth — is it a mushroom? But ol- 
faction is a form of remote sensing. 
That's why scents are intermingled. 
Now if the mixture were constant, 
there'd be no way of unscrambling the 
odors coming from different objects. 
But if odors are intermixed in a fluctu- 
ating way, you can possibly unscram- 
ble them because the relative amounts 
are changing. In the simplest case, 



6Why are 
people put together as they 

are? In 

some sense, it's an accident. 

You could 

have equal intelligence in 

something 

that looks like a cow. 9 



when the background is fixed and the 
template odor comes and goes, you 
can evaluate whether what comes and 
goes has the same ratios of compo- 
nents as the template. If you go into a 
kitchen that stinks of cabbage, say, 30 
seconds later that odor has disap- 
peared. Then if the cook puts some- 
thing else under your nose, you smell 
it in a relatively normal way. 
Omni: If you could equip a robot with 
smell, how close would that be to hu- 
man brain activity? 

Hopfield: Smelling for humans is extraor- 
dinary for the kinds of memories it 
evokes. Gee, that smells like grandmoth- 
er's house, and so on. To copy human- 
tike behavior, you'd need not just the 
sense of odor identification, but also to 
combine it with the rest of knowledge. 
Some sets of memory are strongly odor 
associated and often emotionally 
charged. Smell is linked to emotion 
much more than vision — for reasons re- 
lating to sex, fighting, and food. 

A problem in making humanlike sys- 
tems is that there's no simpfe correspond- 



ence between the artificial math model 
and real neurons. We can already imag- 
ine vision systems that do what we do 
when we see, including the "errors." Vi- 
sual illusions, for instance, are caused 
by improper shortcuts in the algorithms 
biology uses — things thai are wrong. 
You're not going to get illusions in an 
artificial system until it has an uncanny 
similarity to human vision. It will be get- 
ting close when the engineered system 
also suffers from biology's mistakes, 
has biology's illusions. 
Omni: Will neural networking be more 
influential than the atom bomb? 
Hopfield: They will certainly be more 
used! There isn't much technology yet, 
just the algorithms we run on digital ma- 
chines to simulate neural networks. Re- 
al neural-net hardware will be much fast- 
er than emulating neural networks on dig- 
ital machines. People are doing things: 
Du Pont has plastic sheets rolling out 
rapidly while an engineer tunes the proc- 
ess for quality. Du Pont is using net- 
works in some aspects of measuring 
and predicting, product quality. 
Omni: That's pretty mundane. 
Hopfield: Utterly mundane, but if you're 
turning out millions of dollars of prod- 
uct a year and a neural-net algorithm 
helps you, you know neural nets are not 
just imagination. Process engineers can 
be concerned with things like the tex- 
ture of materials, fiber for fabric. Tex- 
ture is slightly nebulous — it isn't a nice 
physical measurement. Texture is a 
more ethereal measurement. You look 
and judge: No, it's not quite right. A neu- 
ral system can learn to recognize tex- 
ture in some sense, even though you 
haven't given it a set of rules. Unlike a 
digital system, you can't quite tell it 
what to do; it has to decide for itself. 
Omni: What other kinds of systems 
have a big future? 

Hopfield: Practical databases. People 
are working on networks to recognize 
English words in natural speech or to 
take written words and speak them nat- 
urally. Speech is tough. There's a lot of 
natural variation. It is hard to give a 
rule for what a sound wave should be 
so that it can recognize, say, the word 
six. But give a network many, many ex- 
amples of six and no six, and after a 
while it constructs its own procedures 
and becomes very effective at recog- 
nizing the difference. Getting a machine 
to generate speech is easier than get- 
ting it to listen to speech. 

Turning typed text into speech is eas- 
ier. Speak and Tell, made by Texas 
Instruments, has a set of rules to get 
from letters to pronunciation. There's a 
lot less natural variation in typed text. 
At Caltech, we've been working on neu- 
ral hardware for a speech-interpreting 



network. We talk into it and il recogniz- 
es the word we said. We work with a 
small vocabulary. If you can do it 
small, you can do it large. Question is, 
can you do it with all the natural varia- 
tion? You, Anthony, speak with a resid- 
ual' British accent that's quite different 
from a ten-year-old girl's from the 
South. The network has to solve what 
is similar between the two. 
Omni: Will we soon get a phone any- 
one can speak a number into and it 
will dial? 

Hopfield: That is totally doable now at 
great expense. But can you do it for ten 
bucks on a single low-electric power 
chip? That's the real intellectual and tech- 
nological challenge. Intel is doing inter- 
esting things. They've recently market- 
ed a neural-net chip with "synapses," 
64 neurons and 8,192 continuously ad- 
justable connections — synapses. It prob- 
ably costs about ten dollars to make. 
Previously, chips needed already-made 
connections or else connections of dis- 
crete strengths, like zeros and ones. In 
use, such connections are either 
made or not made, unlike the continu- 
ously adjustable connections of biology. 
In a neuron, an action potential aris- 
es on an axon terminal, then releases 
some neurotransmitter over to the oth- 
er side to the dendrite, and an electri- 
cal current flows into the dendrite. How 
much electrical currenl flows depends 
on how much transmitter is put out, how 
many receptors are on the other side, 
and so on. There is modification, and 
that modification, for example, is what 
goes on when you [earn. The strength 
of that synapse is fairly adjustable. 

That is what the Intel chip represents. 
The connections in the chip don't have 
to be fully turned on or off. With a cer- 

. tain voltage at the gate^ the transistor 
is partially turned on and a partial con- 

■ nection made. The resistance is adjust- 
able according to the charge at the 
gate. Before this, the control of these 
charges on the gates was not good. Ei- 
ther you had a lot of charge and it was 
turned all the way on and a 1 was 
stored, or the charge was not enough, 
and you stored a zero somewhere. In- 
tel's technology allows a partial 
charge, providing a way of controlling 
the connection in a continuously adjust- 
able way. 

Omni: Will simulated synapses ever mim- 
ic the internal workings of the brain 
cell — second messengers, protein syn- 
thesis, and so on? 

Hopfield; That's not the way electronics 
will go. Biology has all those things avail- 
able and so uses them very cleverly in 
the way it gets neurons to compute. We 
will use the physics that is available in 
the electronic chip in the same way 



that neurobiology capitalizes on the 
structure of the cell. 
Omni: Mathematician Roger Penrose 
says you need quantum mechanics to 
explain consciousness. Do you agree? 
Hopfield: There has long been a roman- 
tic notion among physicists such as 
Niels Bohr, Eugene Wigner, and others 
that quantum mechanics is_the secret 
to the complications and richness of 
thought and neurobiology. I fundamen- 
tally disagree. The real mysteries of neu- 
robiology are essentially problems de- 
scribed by classical physics operating 
in large systems. 

To look at two atoms colliding is not 
interesting. But with 10 to the 43 atoms 
colliding, all the complications of wind 
and weather come into being. A sim- 
ple set of equations— but describing a 
large system — can produce a hugely 
complicated set of phenomena com- 
pletely unlike what you'd have expect- 
ed from the microscopic laws if you 
hadn't studied the hell out of them 
mathematically. These collective or 
large-system phenomena are often 
astonishing, but they come from the 
huge numbers of molecules or synaps- 
es, not the intrinsic complexity of the un- 
derlying physics. 

There is nothing mystical in the- col- 
lective behavior of large systems, and 
the brain is one. Many physicists have 
made the wrong choice about what's im- 
portant in neurobiology. Penrose is the 
most recent example of a noble but 
wrong-headed line. 
Omni: But can you be certain quantum 
mechanics doesn't affect the brain? 
Hopfield: There's simply no evidence for 
it and considerable analysis to show 
why this should be true. Any thinking 
chemist or condensed -matter physicist 
takes the same position I do. Penrose 
never worked on large, complex sys- 
tems whose behavior now is deter- 
mined by many details that happened 
in the past. Why are humans intelligent? 
In some sense, it's an accident. You 
could have equal intelligence in some- 
thing that looks like a cow. Biology as 
we see it has a huge number of frozen 
accidents in it. To understand the 
most evolved part of biology, clearly the 
intelligent mind, you have to know some- 
thing about the frozen accidents. 
Omni: Have you proved your point by 
making computers that can be called. 
conscious? 

Hopfield: They are much more like bi- 
ology, but, of course, you could say 
they are still only programs in digital ma- 
chines. They as yet have no conscious- 
ness. But what is consciousness? The 
term is so ill-defined. I can conceive of 
nothing at present as having conscious- 
ness, because I'd have to be able to 



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define consciousness to describe wheth- 
er it was present. Three years ago, I start- 
ed asking friends what their attitude was 
about it. Richard Feynman's view was 
that consciousness is not a scientific sub- 
ject because he couldn't define it well 
enough to get his hands into it and ask, 
"Is this object conscious?" 
Omni: So physics per se can't define 
consciousness? 

Hopfield: It's the old Turing problem. If 
you communicate with a keyboard at a 
terminal that communicates with some- 
thing at the other end of a line, is the 
thing you're communicating with con- 
scious? I can easily conceive of a digi- 
tal machine clever enough to have a di- 
alogue with you for, say, five minutes. 
You'd have horrible trouble deciding 
what was at the other end. Or suppose 
you had a playful computer-science stu- 
dent at the other end saying, "I'm go- 
ing to be machinelike"? 

Consciousness has something to do 
with attention, but that's a vague start 
and not good enough. 
Omni: If attention is a part of conscious- 
ness, much of the human race may not 
be conscious. 

Hopfield: A large part of what humans 
do is highly intelligent behavior but not 
conscious. You drive home along a 
route you know well and you have a 



choice at each corner to turn left to de- 
viate from your usual route, and you 
don't; you're unconscious of your choic- 
es. Consciousness may be a simpl 
add-on somewhere along the line. Marv- 
in Minsky views consciousness as not 
very interesting because most power- 
ful computations you do in a noncon 
scious fashion. 

I often put some research problem 
away and don't think of it for a while and 
return to it to find it's much more de- 
veloped than it was. Intelligent process- 
ing has been going on. While conscious- 
ness must be in some sense a collec- 
tive phenomenon, that doesn't explain 
what it is. It only explains where to look 
for it. It's collective within the physics 
of the operation, something that 
comes from the very large number of 
nerve cells and not Planck's Constant. 
Omni: You mean consciousness is 
just the result of having so many neu- 
rons in Ihe cortex — a hundred times as 
many as rats do? 

Hopfield: There are certain behaviors 
that don't take place in a small number 
but that in large numbers are fundamen- 
tally different. Look at the social inter- 
action of two people. There's nothing in 
the behavior of a pair of people con- 
veying the idea that if a thousand peo- 
ple get together, a riot can take place. 




A riot can only take place above a cer- 
tain size group. It isn't because people 
interact differently, but the consequenc- 
es of those interactions are different 
when you have large rather than small 
numbers. Physics is full of these phe- 
nomena for economic systems, weath- 
er, and other things. 
Omni: Isn't consciousness shown by 
the ability to interact with oneself? 
Hopfield: That's a part of the story, but 
how do you tell whether you think 
about yourself or not? The issue partly 
involves the fact that there exists a phys- 
ical as well as a mental you. Your arm 
is not just a word, it's a physical object. 
The interaction between symbols and 
physical objects is part of the difficulty 
in describing consciousness. If you in- 
sist on having a dialogue only on a com- 
puter line and describe everything on- 
ly with language, the physical world 
"out there" is only apparent in terms of 
words. But when humans think and ex- 
perience the world, they have independ- 
ent sensors of touch, vision, and smell 
that give the.m direct descriptions. 
Then the world is not just words. 
Omni: Isn't a computer that says, "Help, 
I'm being damaged!" conscious? 
Hopfield: For the computer to actually 
do so, it would need sensors that ob- 
serve or measure the physical things be- 
ing done to it. With an array of such sen- 
sors, you begin to have the means 
whereby consciousness could be an is- 
sue. The computer could become truly 
self-referential; it would have a way to 
measure its own heartbeat. 
Omni: Do you dare advocate building 
emotions into machines? 
Hopfield: All higher animals have emo- 
tions that serve a biological function. I 
think I understand crudely how to insert 
the essential idea of them into physical 
systems. They're not built particularly 
easily in hardware, but the principle is 
relatively simple. It goes back to the 
question, "Why, when you are hungry, 
do many things remind you of food 
that otherwise wouldn't?" 
Omni: But hunger isn't an emotion like 
regret, fear, or hope. 
Hopfield: What do you mean by hope? 
Somebody who has hope will take a per- 
sistently positive view of a situation and 
do actions identifiably in one class. 
Someone without hope will take a dif- 
ferent class of actions. 
Omni: Isn't that reducing it to a very low 
digital computer level? 
Hopfield: To make progress, we must 
have operational definitions. I can't ex- 
plain that "feeling of hope," but the op- 
erational side of hope is easier to de- 
scribe. If you are in the operational 
state of "hungry," certain things remind 
you of food, which if you're not in that 



biochemical state won't. Hope will 
have to do with hormonal states infill- : 
encing choices as will be true of hun- 
ger. Particular hormones or neuroactive 
substances will be more present at one 
time or another. If you learn in the pres- 
ence of one, it will tend to make you 
remember those general structures 
when it is present once again. I think 
hope and hunger are related phenom- 
ena. I can't say why you feel hungry or 
hopeful or what those feelings are. But 
I can try to understand why you act un- 
der certain circumstances as though 
you are hungry or hopeful. That's op- 
erational. I can get into that. 
Omni: Everything we feel can be re- 
duced to engineering? 
Hopfield: Some things described as feel- 
ings can be operationally reduced to 
engineering. But what we feel is diffi- 
cult. Specific drugs are known to result 
in a feeling of pleasure. We even under- 
stand the molecular sites to which they 
bind. This does not answer the ques- 
tion, "What is pleasure?" 
Omni: So future computers or robots 
may not show consciousness but will 
show some consequences of emo- 
tions? Perhaps awareness of emotions? 
Hopfield: Nobody has dealt with artifi- 
cial neural networks that make meas- 
urements of themselves. If a network 



could do that, it could have an internal 
dialogue about emotion because it will 
know something about its internal state. 
Omni: Doesn't this ability to self-moni- 
tor potentially free computers from hu- 
man control? 

Hopfield: Computers already talk to them- 
selves about their internal state. All ma- 
chines these days do a -self-check 
when you turn them on. They say, "I am 
okay, Jack!" after exercising their log- 
ic and memory. That's a beginning. 
They check themselves with proce- 
dures already out of the user's control. 
If you could have more of a dialogue 
with them, they might begin to tell you 
in what sense they don't feel well. 
Omni: Won't emotions be complicated 
to build in? 

Hopfield: Operationally, emotions 
would be relatively simple to construct. 
It's only seif-dialogue that's hard. The 
present state of emotion in biology is 
very provocative. Depression, for in- 
stance, has biochemical symptoms. But 
that leaves totally unanswered the ques- 
tion of mechanisms by which depress- 
ing thoughts are caused by a chemi- 
cal state. Nobody in biology really 
works on that. Marvelous topic. 

Researchers working on ways of treat- 
ing depression do it in the sense of the 
auto mechanic who tells you that a nor- 



mal car has gasoline in it, and yours 
does not, and if gasoline is added, the 
car will probably work. When we fix 
this biochemistry, the sign of depres- 
sion, it will probably go away With the 
automobile, the mechanic is not ad- 
dressing how the engine works, nor is 
the neuroscientist asking how the lack 
of a chemical gives rise to depressed 
thoughts. No one in clinical neurobiol- 
ogy asks what's the difference between 
exalting and depressing thoughts 
such that now you can have one and 
not the other — how the brain thinks. 
Omni: What about the Japanese? 
Hopfield: They are a real force in the' 
field. They feel they have a language 
problem, that the world is not going to 
learn Japanese, and that they'd be at 
less of a disadvantage if they could 
speak Japanese at one end of a tele- 
phone and have English come out the 
other. And vice versa. They see artifi- 
cial neural systems as an important ap- 
proach to this problem. 

Many of their electronics companies 
have small neural biology groups and 
are working on the same problems we 
are. The Japanese and Chinese are spe- 
cifically working on software to recog- 
nize kanji, or written characters. There 
are two Japanese alphabets: phonetic 
and real pictographs. In one direction, 




wh 



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tncy'd liKc a systc^- to reac -.vi iting. c-nd 
in the other direction, to type. At pre- 
sent, it's slow to type with a thousand 
symbols, so they'd like to type phonet- 
ically and have these symbolic char- 
acters appear correctly in context. 
Omni: What about military applications 9 
Hopfield: There's promise in aspects of 
pattern recognition tor feature surveil- 
lance where millions of pictures are 
shot to monitor missiles in other coun- 
tries. People are not going to look at all 
those photos. You want to select by 
fast pattern recognition the 1 percent 
most relevant. 
Omni: Star Wars stuff? 
Hopfield: There are much more exciting 
ways to spend technological money. Sim- 
ple pattern recognition. Why should you 
have to pay attention on the freeway? 
You could probably teach your dog to 
drive adequately on the freeway under 
most circumstances. Why can't neural 
nets do the early part of the visual proc- 
essing well enough so that a digital ■~3.- 
chine could finish it, off — keep you on 
the road, not running into the car ahead 
of you, and staying in lane? 
Omni: in computer chess, why nof 
build the best players you can and get 
them to play each other and learn to be- 
come the best by playing hundreds of 
thousands of. games? 
Hopfield: In theory, you could do it if the 
networks were sullieicn'ly complex. But 
then your game is tailored around your op- 
ponent's. I've hoa'd aoout the proo em in 
humans. Two brothers played only with 
each other and didn't develop chess as 
it's normally played. They both learned 
an abnormal, highly stylized game, and 
they could be clobbered by anybody 
playing normal chess. 
Omni: Your father was always thinking 
physics-, wasn't he? 
Hopfield: One day I was with Father, row- 
ing on a' river with one of my older sis- 
ters. Her one-year-old child stood up in 
the back of the boat and fell out into 
the very muddy water. My sister 
screamed, and ■"■"■y father stood up but 
didn't move. She cried, "You're not do- 
ing anything!" He said, "Don't worry, 
she' I float." He waited until she came 
up into view before diving in. If was his 
immediate rational calculation that every- 
thing was going to be fine, and the op- 
erational thing to do was wait until the 
laws of physics came forward — be- 
cause the child was fat! 
Omni: Do you have that attitude? 
Hopfield: Well, I'm afraid my family 
would say that I tend to be overly ra- 
tional. There is always the question in 
life as to the balance between rational 
and emotional reactions. A totally ra- 
tional outlook can be very unsaisfac 
tory. Life needs poetry. DQ 



SACRED 



ing. "That one, Jackie. That one is spe- 
cial, yaar. It's a smasheroo, Jackie. An 
ultrahit! Bloody champagne and flower 
garlands here, Jackie boy. It's big, 
Mega." 

"You liked the Moon, eh," Jackie 
said, stunned. 

"Love the Moon. Love all that non- 
sense." 

"I did hear about your brother's gov- 
er niner :apponf— era Corgratulatons." 

Goldie chuckled. "Bloody hell, Jack- 
ie. You're the fourth fellow today to 
make that silly misfake. That Vachcha- 
ni fellow in aeronautics, he's not my 
brother. My brother's a bloody contrac- 
tor; he builds bloody houses, Jackie. 
This other Vachchani, he's some scien- 
lis: egghead ; ollow. That Moon stuff is 
stuoic cazy, i: will never happen." He 
laughed, then dropped his voice. "The 
fourth one is shit, Jackie. Women's 
weepies are a drug on the bloody mar- 
ket this season, you rascal. Send me 
something funny next time. A bloody 
dance comedy." 

"Will do," Jackie said. 

"This girl Betty," Goldie'said. "She 
likes to work?" 

"Yes.'' 

"She's a party girl, too?" 

"You might say so." 

"I want to meet this Betty. You send 
her here on the very next train, No, an 
aeroplane, hang the cost. And that 
soundtrack man too. My kids love that 
damned ugly music. If the kids love it, 
there's money in it." 

"I need them both, Goldie. For my 
next feature. Got them under contract, 
yaar." 

Goldie paused. Jackie waited him 
out. 

"You got a little tax trouble, Jac<ie? 
I'm going to see to fixing that silly busi- 
ness, yaar. See to thai straightaway. Per- 
sonally." 

Jackie let out a breath. "They're as 
good as on the way, Goldieji." 

"You got it then. You're a funny fel- 
low, Jackie." There was a digital clat- 
ter as the phone went dead. 

The studio lights of the Japanese 
C"ew fashed on, framing Jackie in the 
graveyard in a phosphorescent glare. 
"Bloody hell!" Jackie shouted, llirgmg 
the phone away into the air and clap- 
ping his nands. "Party, my crew! Big par- 
ty tonight for every bloody soul, and the 
bill is on Jackie Amar!" He whooped 
aloud. "If you're not drunk and danc- 
ing tonight, then you're no friend of 
mine! My God everybody' My God, but 
life is good." DO 





INTRODUCING THE 
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their special advertising needs. 

Reaching nearly 4 million readers, the 

"OMNI EMPORIUM" will consist of 

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$700 for 2-1/8" X 1" ad 

to $1,950 for 1/6 ad 

An offset film positive (RRED, 1 20 line 

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orders and must be in the form of a 

check, bank check or money order. 

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acceptance by OMNI. Deadline for 

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Maria Manaseri 

Phone/Fax: 
516-757-9562 



GAMES 



FLOATING TIME: 

What really makes the hourglass tick 

By Scot Morris 



Last September, I pre- 
sented a puzzling object: an 
hourglass thai floats at the- 
top of a liquid-filled tube 
(below left). Turn the tube 
over and the glass remains 
at the bottom (below right) 
until about half of its sand 
has fallen from the top 
compartment to the bottom. 
Then it slowly ascends to 
the top, where it rests until 
the cycle is repeated. 

I asked readers to send in 
theories explaining the 
phenomenon. As of this 
writing, I have received 415 
correct answers. (The cor- 
rect answer appears at the 
end of this article.) But 618 
sent incorrect theories of at 
least 15 different types. To 
minimize embarrassment to 
any of my much-appreciat- 
ed readers, I'll give the 
names of these creative 
authors only if they've won 
the promised' prizes. 

About 40 percent of -those 
readers with incorrect an- 
swers cited heat as a factor 
in the hourglass's behavior. 
Falling sand generates heat, 
they said. 
Some- ar- 
gued that 
this warms 
the surround- 
ing liquid 
so the hour- 
glass stays 
down until 
the liquid 
cools 

again; oth- 
ers, that the 
hourglass 
floats up 
with the 
pocket of 
warm liquid 
surround- 
ing the 

96 OMNI 



glass's neck. But most in 
this category thought the 
heat warms the air in the 
glass, making it expand 
slightly and then rise. 

More than 50 readers 
thought that the hourglass 
was flexible. Some rea- 
soned that when the sand 
presses down from the top, 
the hourglass widens and 
wedges itself into the 
cylinder. Others decided 
that the hourglass is flexible 
only at the ends. "The top 
and bottom of the hourglass 
are so thin as to sag under 
the weight of the sand," 
wrote B. G of Los Altos 
Hills, California. "When 
enough sand falls into the 
bottom chamber, it 'bub- 
bles' the bottom end out, 
increasing the hourglass's 
volume," reasoned D. Q. of 
Richmond Hill, Ontario, 
Canada. 

Many correspondents 
blamed the "impact" of 
falling sand for keeping the 
glass down. Some even 
used mathematical formulas 
to show how much force a 
sand grain exerted, first on 
the bottom of the glass and 
later on a mound of other 
sand grains. The theory may 
be correct, but the calcula- 
tions have to also consider 
[he amount of time each 
grain of sand is falling and 
weightless; the two tiny 
opposing forces exactly 
cancel each other out. 
Movements within the sys- 
tem don't alter the weight of 
the system. 

Another line of reasoning 
put the emphasis on the 
liquid; "The solution is in the 
solution!" wrote H. W. of 
Coweta, Oklahoma. If the 
liquid is naturally cooler and 



denser at the bottom, then 
the denser liquid is at the 
top when the tube is turned 
over. It eventually seeps 
down below the hourglass 
and buoys it up. 

A surprising number 
thought it's all an illusion. "It 
just takes a long time for the 
hourglass to get started," 
perhaps because the liquid 
is very viscous, wrote one 
reader. "The hourglass, as a 
system, is rising from the 
moment the column is 
inverted," argued P. T. of 
Glendale, California. They 
concentrated on the air 
bubble that constantly rises, 
first in the hourglass and 
then in the tube. 

Many believed the air at 
the top of the hourglass lifts 
it to the top of the tube. 
"When enough air reaches 
the top chamber and exerts 
its pressure there, the 
hourglass begins to rise." 
wrote T H. of Chapel Hill, 
North Carolina. About 4 
percent of those who wrote 
in thought that the shape of 
the hourglass affected its 
buoyancy. 
When the 




greater surface area. "It's 
the same principle that 

ises a snow cone to pop 
out of its cup when you 
squeeze the bottom," ex- 
plained D. A. N. of 
Tillamook, Oregon, 

The beauty of this puzzle, 
as I said in September, is 
that it can be solved by 
thinking about it. It requires 
no touching. Wise readers 
knew they could rule out any 

ulution they could easily 
check if they had one of 
these contraptions in their 
hands. Pure gamesmanship 
should rule out special 
technologies — if the answer 
relied on some new kind of 
flexible glass or an unusual 
liquid,- it wouldn't have been 
i fair puzzle to ask readers, 

Ray Bathke of the Games 
& Puzzles shop in London, 
who builds the hourglasses, 

"3 me he uses quite 
ordinary components. Dis- 
tilled water with a drop of 
disinfectant added to pre- 
vent algae growth fills the 
tube. He makes the 
hourglass from ordinary 
glass, custom blown to 
specific proportions, and 
fills it with common air and 
sand. He carefully measures 
the weight and volume of 
each glass and then 
calculates the weight of 
sand needed, to within a 
hundredth of a gram, to 
make that particular glass 
just barely float in room- 
temperature water. 

Now for the answer: The 
inverted hourglass has sand 
on top and air on the 
bottom. It is top-heavy, or 
bottom -buoyant, so it wants 
to flip over. It presses 
against the sides of the 
tube, wedging itself in, and 

CONTINUED ON RAGE 71